The DP World Tour heads to one of the most picturesque places on the golfing calendar this week when the Omega European Masters is played out in the Swiss Alps. This is always a popular spot with the players and signals the start of the run in of big events for the season.
Rasmus Hojgaard certainly enjoyed the surroundings a year ago when he won the title and he will be looking to make a successful defence of his crown. As events begin to conclude stateside though the fields here are getting stronger and he has a good one to contend with.
2021 – Rasmus Hojgaard
2019 – Sebastian Soderberg
2018 – Matthew Fitzpatrick
2017 – Matthew Fitzpatrick
2016 – Alex Noren
2015 – Danny Willett
2014 – David Lipsky
2013 – Thomas Bjorn
2012 – Richie Ramsay
2011 – Thomas Bjorn
We are back at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club this week. This course is up in the Swiss Alps and offers up some picturesque views so it is always a good one to watch on the TV with the wonderful backdrop on show. The course itself is a par 70 which only measures 6,824 yards although with the altitude it is at, it isn’t going to play anything like that yardage through the air. There have been no changes to the course of any note.
The defence of this course as well as the breeze high up in the mountains is the small greens which can be quite hard to find so we are looking for excellent iron players and ones with a decent short game because inevitably some greens will be missed and then it is a case of getting up and down. This tends to be a course for specialists so previous form round here can be a big thing. Distance control at altitude is another thing to look for.
We have four members of the top 100 in the world rankings teeing it up this week. They are Ryan Fox, Adri Arnaus, Adrian Meronk and Nicolai Hojgaard who will all be looking to end the season with a bang. Fox and Meronk are two of the three top 10 players in the Race to Dubai rankings on show this week. The other is the South African player Thriston Lawrence. Ewen Ferguson completes a quintet of top 20 players on the Race to Dubai scene with Arnaus the other.
Richie Ramsay, Victor Perez and Ashun Wu have all won titles this season and they will be looking to add to their tallies this week while Sean Crocker is another in that boat. Defending champion Rasmus Hojgaard is here as is the man he took the title from a year ago in the form of the Swedish player Sebastian Soderberg. Robert MacIntyre, Romain Langasque and Richard Mansell are a number of players who could run well here.
Ryan Fox is the 18/1 favourite to win the title this week. If he is going to win it then he will have to do so on a course which doesn’t necessarily play to his strengths because length isn’t really a factor here. He does have a top 10 in his three visits here though which suggests he can tame this course. He has gone a little quiet since he was the runner up in Ireland back in July though and that would be a concern. Fox has played a lot this season and the tank might not be as full as he would like.
Adrian Meronk might have been the man to beat at 20/1 this week. I expect him to win a lot more tournaments now that he has got the monkey off his back when he won the Irish Open. He missed the cut the following week at the Scottish Open which was probably understandable and then down the field at The Open. The concern over the Polish star is that he hasn’t teed it up since St Andrews so he might need to shed some rust. That puts me off here.
The defending champion Rasmus Hojgaard is 28/1 to take the title down this week. Defending a title is never an easy thing to do but especially when you haven’t been in the greatest form and haven’t teed it up for five weeks. There will be a fair amount of constraint on his time here as the defending champion and when you add in the rust he must have accumulated, although we know he can win here he isn’t for me.
Robert MacIntyre is the only other man who is shorter than 33/1 in the field this week. That shows how competitive things are here. The Scot has been going ok this season but he’s a good deal better than ok so you would suggest that his game isn’t perfectly in sync. He has picked up a couple of top 20 finishes in his last four outings though so maybe he is about to come into form. The fact he missed the cut on his only previous appearance here doesn’t exactly inspire either.
I’ll go with a couple of main bets this week with the first of those coming in the form of Marcus Armitage who has put together two acceptable campaigns around Crans-sur-Sierre and who should continue to improve now he has tasted the course and conditions a couple of times. He has gone T20-T7 here in the two goes he has had and comes here in decent form after T16 at the Cazoo Classic at Hillside and then T9 at Celtic Manor. In the latter only two men hit more greens than him for the week and nobody was better in the strokes gained on approach department. Given that this course is all about finding tough greens to find those numbers are particularly appealing. There is a sense that ‘The Bullet’ is running into form at a good time and he is my first main bet.
My second outright this week is Marcus Helligkilde. He has caught my eye in recent weeks having gone 8-13-MC-43-4 in his last five starts and the 43 would have been a lot better but for a closing 77 at Celtic Manor. In those tournaments he made the cut in he ranked 3-11-43-28 for GIR and 32-7-59-8 in strokes gained on approach so he is hitting the irons very well. He has been quite high up in the putting stats in that time as well and there is never a week where putting the ball in the hole is a bad thing. This will be his first tilt around here which is a bit of a concern but the field isn’t that strong that a debutant can’t go well. The Dane won in Switzerland on the Challenge Tour last season so might have good memories of this part of the world and looks a big price in an open betting heat.
I’ll also go with a couple of outsiders this week as well. The first of those is a player I took a month ago at the Hero Open in Lucas Bjerregaard. The Dane missed the cut that week but he missed it having shot -3 which will probably have annoyed him a touch. He made up for that at Celtic Manor the following week though when he finished third which was a pretty decent effort. That wee he ranked 16 for driving accuracy, 7 for greens in regulation and 8 for putting average which converted into first in strokes gained from tee to green for the week, picking up almost 11 shots on the field, 12 for strokes gained on approach and 27 for strokes gained putting. I said when I put him up at the Hero Open that there were just one or two signs of Bjerregaard coming good again and his spin in Wales confirmed that to me. He was a runner up here in 2018 when Matthew Fitzpatrick beat him in a play-off and he was ninth the year before so he ticks all the boxes for a positive tilt again this year.
The other bet I like is for Tom Lewis to have a good week. He has had a frustrating few years trying to cut it on the PGA Tour scene but without ever really being able to break through to the extent he would have desired. He now looks like he is back in Europe looking to get back to where he was a few years ago and I fancy he’ll be able to do that. Lewis has only played four DP World Tour events in Europe this season and in two of those he has finished T10 and T13, the latest of which was at the Czech Masters last week where he shot -10 for the 54 holes. Lewis was sixth in greens hit last week and was in the 15-23 ranking for all the key strokes gained categories so he hit the ball well. Lewis is probably in the bracket of being above average at this level but below average for PGA Tour level so back at a level he should excel in I think he’s worth a bet here. He has two top 20 finishes around here including a closing 65 on his last spin here in 2017. I’ll pay to see if the drop in grade brings about a rise in result.
Back M.Armitage to win Omega European Masters (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Betway (1/5 1-7)
Back M.Helligkilde to win Omega European Masters (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-7)
Back L.Bjerregaard to win Omega European Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-7)
Back T.Lewis to win Omega European Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)