This week we are in Switzerland for the Omega European Masters; a tournament that is steeped in history on Tour and has captured the imagination of many fans due to it being held at one of the most beautiful courses in Europe.
The Crans-sur-Sierre course is set in the Swiss Alps and has panoramic views from all angles. It is a 6,881 yard par 71, which is obviously short by today’s standards. With most tracks short of the 7,000 yard mark, they test players in completely different ways to the monsters that you find Stateside. Narrow, tree-lined fairways will catch out errant tee shots, whilst the small and guarded greens will prove tough to find. Many of the past winners here have had excellent accuracy stats from tee to green and most often let the putter just ‘get by’. Although short game prowess is certainly useful with bunkers and big slopes off the greens causing mayhem and potential trouble.
The club have spent an estimated €2 million on refurbishing the course since last year, improving the greens and working out ways to bring more hazards into play. There are now 6 holes where water will be an obstacle, re-affirming the need to be accurate this week.
3 of the 4 par 5s are definitely reachable in 2, whilst 3 par 4s can be reached by the very, very longest. Most will be looking at a very short wedge shot – hence why someone like Luke Donald won here in 2004.
All in all it is going to be a great week and hopefully we can overturn our own recent rut and find a winner in the Swiss Alps.
Brett Rumford (33/1 Various)
The Aussie has gotten back to his best in the last couple of weeks after his incredible back to back victories earlier in the season. With this course being such a short one, emphasis on the short game has never been bigger. And we have no worries when we say, on his day, there is no better player in the WORLD with a better short game than Rumford. So with the four par 5’s and three short par 4’s, there will be plenty of opportunities to express his abilities. He averages 290 yards off the tee also, so it’s not as if he is a one trick pony either! We also need to mention Brett won here in 2007! And that was his last victory since these two in 2013, so maybe his new found winning mentality can spark some memories from his previous win here. 6th two weeks ago followed by an 8th last week means he is definitely back to his best. Rumford is just a really solid performer and you will not go wrong with him this week.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (30/1 Various)
When we knew what type of course it was, the Spaniard instantly popped into our heads. It seems that country breeds magnificent iron players and he is no different. Richie Ramsey won last year coming 1st in GIR and Castano is easily capable of matching that with the game that he brings to the table. It’s also a course where fellow countryman Jimenez has thrived, and certainly looks like a course they will enjoy. His form perhaps has not excited us like we would want, but we need to account for his PGA Tour performances and Majors. But T10 at the US Open certainly shows he has the game for tight, tough courses! We also need to mention his T8 last week at the Wales Open where he finished very impressively with two rounds of 69, which ultimately confirmed to us that we were backing him this week. He has recorded a top 6 on this track before, so we know he can perform around here.
One thing that would always worry us with backing Castano is his putting. If he could putt better, the wins he has to his name could easily be doubled. But putting in particular will not be as much as a factor this week, only three people out of the top 20 last year ranked inside the top 10 for putts per GIR. It just shows if you keep giving yourself those chances, the putts will drop. For quality of player, you will not find better than the Spaniard in Switzerland.
Richie Ramsay (45/1 UNIBET)
Richie Ramsay is a player that has been on our radar for a very long time, having impressed us in various moments throughout the past couple of years. Last season he really showed his true class at this very event, where he defeated a strong field by 4 strokes, playing some superb golf tee to green. He once again proved how talented his iron play can be and there is no reason why he can’t do it again.
However, what has frustrated us is how he has failed to kick on in 2013 and fulfil his talent as he enters his 30s. He is a 2-time European Tour winner and 3 top 10s all year is a very poor return. But one of those top 10s did come last time out at the Johnnie Walker Championship, which will have given him an unthinkable amount of confidence going onto a course where he has played so well at before.
He is a proven short-course golfer and when you think he is lying in 3rd for driving accuracy and 38th for GIR, you realise this is a perfect match.
All we can hope for is that his putter works, because everything else will fall into place.
Adilson Da Silva (100/1 various)
We backed Adilson Da Silva for a course of a very similar nature earlier this year. The East London Golf Course held the Africa Open in South Africa and Da Silva was 3 shots clear going into the weekend, having played sublimely. Then, between walking off the 18th on Friday and teeing off on the 1st the next day, he somehow injured his wrist and back and was absolutely shocking both Saturday and Sunday.
We were understandably gutted, but it was a peak into the potential of Da Silva and how destructive he can be when his game is on. He has since gone on to play on ‘lower’ tours, incorporating a schedule in Asia, Africa and Europe. Not surprisingly, his form has been sublime, recording the lowest finish of T41. He has won twice, (The wonderfully named Zambia Sugar Open and a non-sanctioned event called the Sun City Challenge.) whilst finding the top 2 in 4 out of his last 6 events – in fact, in the other 2 tournaments he finished T16 and T13…Basically this lad is on fire at the minute and we saw enough in South Africa to show he can mix it with the European Tour players. This really is a course that suits the Brazilian and we haven’t even mentioned his stats yet – 1st in driving accuracy on both the Sunshine and European Tours, whilst he is 1st for GIR in Europe and 2nd on the Sunshine.
We will be honest. When we first looked at this tournament and course, a few names popped out straight away and we checked to see if they were there. Da Silva was one of them (you have already read about 2!) and when you think he is 100/1, bring on the value.
Søren Kjeldsen (66/1 Coral)
We have backed so many Scandinavians this year, some of who returned us a lot of money along the way. Søren is one that got onto our ‘teamsheet’ a few weeks ago, thinking he could be perfect at the Scottish Open. After a promising start, he faltered at the weekend to finish T31. And that has been the story of much of his season – chucking in at least 1 poor round at the weekend to ruin any chance of a high finish. However, all that changed last week in Wales where he shot a stunning 66 on Sunday to climb right up to 3rd.
A round like that will give any player bundles of confidence and we just feel the big Dane could thrive off it and bring in his form onto a course where he did finish T4 back in 2006.
Currently, he is 74th in driving accuracy and 65th for GIR, which is not the worst combination but last week he finished 18th and 19th respectively. Whilst, his putting was on fire – 3rd for putts per GIR and putts per round. If he can keep his game going, then we could all be in for a Danish treat.
Thomas Aiken (150/1 Ladbrokes)
For a man who has won on tour in 2013 already, and someone who has been in our plans for many big tournaments, it is quite incredible that we find him at these sorts of odds. Now we understand he is in three figures because his form of late has not been the best! But when he won back in March, he came in on the back of a missed cut and only one top 10 in 2013. He followed that with T11 at the Malaysian Open and T3 at the Volvo World Match Play. So his credentials cannot be questioned. Regardless of recent finishes, his iron play has still been there for the past few months and this is shown in his 13th in GIR and 7th in driving accuracy! This course will suit Aiken down to a ‘tee’ and will without doubt give himself a lot of birdie chances. Aiken also has very good history on shorter courses which is why he featured heavily in our plans for The Open. In a European Tour event without the bigger stars, you really won’t find many better players at these sorts of odds and we feel it is too good to ignore.