The European Tour heads for Switzerland this week and the Omega European Masters at spectacular Crans-sur-Sierre. Thomas Bjorn of Denmark is the defending champion.
High in the Swiss Alps, Crans-sur-Sierre has, perhaps, the most stunning backdrop of any course on the European Tour. The layout dates from 1908, though it was re-designed in the late 1920s then altered by Seve back in 1999.
This is one of the European Tour’s oldest tournament venues, and this will be the 41st hosting of the event. Past winners include Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.
In 1971 Baldovino Dassu made history at Crans-sur-Sierre when he became the first player to shoot 60 on the European Tour. Jamie Spence managed the same score in the final round in 1992. He clawed back a 10 shot deficit and went on to win the title in a play-off against Anders Forsbrand.
In last year’s tournament Thomas Bjorn played a superb final round of 62 to finish four shots clear of Martin Kaymer. It was the Dane’s second straight European Tour win, just a week on from his victory in the 2011 Johnnie Walker Championship.
Bjorn will be back in Switzerland to defend his title but, as ever, will face strong competition from an impressive international field.
Winner last week at Gleneagles, Paul Lawrie will be back in action. The Scot will be looking to continue the superb run of form that has seen him climb to 30th on the Official World Golf Ranking. Other favourites this week will include Peter Hanson and former winners Alex Noren and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Venue: Crans-sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland
Date: August 30 – September 2
Course stats: par 71, 6,822 yards
Purse: €2,100,000 Winner: €350,000
Defending Champion: Thomas Bjorn (-20)
Thursday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Saturday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Sunday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Jamie Donaldson – Tied third here last year, Donaldson has come on leaps and bounds this year with a victory in Ireland and a top-10 finish in the USPGA Championship. He obviously likes this course and could have won in 2011 had it not been for a disappointing final round.
Miguel Angel Jimenez – The veteran Spaniard is a former winner and has a great record at this layout. It’s short and strategic, ideally suited to his game. Watch for him to feature again.
Paul Lawrie – It’s difficult to ignore the form of Lawrie at the moment. Last week’s winner, he’s riding the crest of a wave following the confirmation of his place in Ollie’s Ryder Cup team. He could repeat Bjorn’s 2011 feat and win back-to-back: Gleneagles then Crans.
Key holes: 5-7. Three straight par 4s measuring under 340 yards. All could be driveable depending on tee position and wind direction – This should be where players kick-start their rounds with a couple of birdies. However, danger awaits the overly greedy.
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