With the PGA Tour taking a rest week in America, all eyes are on Europe this week with the European Masters in Switzerland.
A tournament with an illustrious history, it will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary and with the PGA not in action, a number of big names are on show in Crans-Montana – for what is considered one of the most picturesque tournaments in world golf with stunning views of the Pleine Morte Glacier and the Swiss Alps.
Played at the Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre, the defending champion and favourite for the event is Swedish star and world number 12 Alex Noren who – if he wins – will have taken the title three times, and become the first player to do so since the legendary Seve Ballesteros claimed the third of his wins in 1989.
Noren comes into the week in relaxed mood having got married over the weekend.
“This is our honeymoon, it’s beautiful,” he said. “Maybe a real honeymoon later on but it’s a beautiful place to come to, I’ve always liked it here and I think everybody who’s ever played here thinks it’s one of the most beautiful courses and places in the world.
“Winning is very tough and you need to have your whole game in place,” he said. “The thing I’m happy with this season, I managed to play good at some of the events that I’ve never played good at. I’m playing a little bit better in America than I have in the past so it’s not all about the wins.
“You just try to play well against good fields and I feel like I’ve done that this year and I’m happy with my performances. We’ll see how it goes but I’m trying my best.
“The last few years has obviously been good to me and now I’m trying to get better all the time. It’s not so easy but I’m doing everything I can. Trying to practise better and play better tournaments.”
— OmegaEuropeanMasters (@omegaEUmasters) September 5, 2017
English star and Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood returns to European Tour and is fancied to go well.
“It’s a great place to come back,” he said. “I feel good, I had a couple of weeks hardly doing much and then started practising a bit last week, I played a couple of times and I’m getting back into it.
“It’s a great course, a great test, I’ve enjoyed my time playing here, I’ve had good weeks and the odd dodgy one where the course has got the better of me but every time you play it, it’s always enjoyable.”
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
I have always liked Jordan Smith and think he could do very well this week, and I really fancy another Englishman with Ross Fisher back from America – he could go close for me.
The Bookie says…
We caught up with BetVictor’s Jack Milner – an expert in the golfing markets
The European Tour moves onto Switzerland for the Omega Masters set high up in the Swiss Alps at approximately 1500 metres above sea level. Alex Noren thrived at the course 12 months ago, beating Aussie Scott Hend in a play-off, and is the 9/1 favourite with BetVictor to go back-to-back and retain his title.
He is undoubtedly skinny at the prices for a man not sighted since finishing the back nine in 41 at the PGA Championship and he can’t be backed at a single figure price. We mentioned last week that Lee Westwood was the ‘best of a bad bunch’ in terms of the quintet at the head of the market for the Czech Masters and he looks a fair price at 28/1 to celebrate his 500th European Tour appearance with a win.
The 44-year-old ran cold with the putter all week before bursting into life on Sunday, firing a final round 68 to finish T9 and is expected to build on that this week in Switzerland. He was brilliant tee-to-green with little success with the flat-stick and made par or worse at 7 consecutive par 5s before an eagle on the back nine on Sunday.
He must go close this week, and similar comments apply to Matteo Mannassero. The Italian was touted as potential world-beater after winning the PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2014, but has struggled thereafter and is now ranked 315 in the world.
He reached a low of 635 after missing the cut in 18 of 23 events in 2015 but is gradually coming back to form and put four solid rounds together last week in the Czech Republic. The same comments apply to Callum Shinkwin, who opened with a 66 before eventually finishing T9.
The 24-year-old really ought to have won the Scottish Open earlier in the season, when losing in a play-off to Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello. He looks a serious talent and would have gone close in last year’s event were it not for a final round 74, after posted three rounds in the 60s beforehand.
European Masters Selections:
Lee Westwood 28/1 with BetVictor
Callum Shinkwin 66/1 with BetVictor
Scott Hend 66/1 with BetVictor
Matteo Mannassero 100/1 with BetVictor