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European Tour: Omega European Masters

Golfer admires shot

The European Tour now gets the chance to bask in the post-FedEx Cup limelight. The tour was no doubt delighted with the success of European figurehead Rory McIlroy. But I couldn’t actually believe that the Northern Irish superstar is teeing up this week.  He is the key draw in an excellent line-up this week’s Omega European Masters. 

European Tour 2019 | Omega European Masters
Crans-sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland
Thursday 29 August – Sunday 1 September

Formerly known as the Swiss Open, this event dates back to 1923 and has been played at Crans-sur-Sierre since 1939. It has been a fixture on the European Tour since its inception in 1972 and is one of the most picturesque settings in world golf.

Cut against the spectacular Crans Montana mountain range, Crans-sur-Sierre was opened way back in 1908. The course as we know it is largely attributable to the legendary Seve Ballesteros. He oversaw a drastic overhaul of the course in 1999. Further work has seen considerable evolution in the make-up of this course. It is a tree-lined venue that doesn’t offer any real advantage to the bombers. It is a small, tricky course that puts a premium on finding greens in regulation. The small greens are visually similar to upturned saucers, with extensive run-off areas requiring precision from the fairway. This is a course that rewards familiarity, with 12 previous multiple winners of this event.

Playing 2nd fiddle to Rory McIlroy this week, two-time defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick will look for a historic three-peat on the back of an agonizing runner-up finish at the Albatross. Erik Van Rooyen will be looking to build on his impressive performance in Sweden while Tommy Fleetwood looks to lick his wounds following a disappointing FedEx Cup Playoff Series. The ever-controversial Rory Sabbatini – even his golf balls have to be a different colour – will play a regular European Tour event for the first time since his Slovakian switch. Elsewhere the likes of Matt Wallace and Sergio Garcia ensure a splendid roster for what is sure to be a spectacle in the Swiss mountains. 

Past Winners
2018: Matthew Fitzpatrick (-17)*playoff
2017: Matthew Fitzpatrick (-14)*playoff
2016: Alex Noren (-17)*playoff
2015: Danny Willett (-17)
2014: David Lipsky (-18)*playoff

Outright Betting (To Win)
Rory McIlroy (7/2)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (8/1)
Tommy Fleetwood (12/1)
Erik Van Rooyen (20/1)
Alex Noren (20/1)

Value Bets

Lee Westwood
To Win (45/1), To Place (19/2)

The evergreen Lee Westwood has ticked along nicely this season, with a host of top 20 finishes in stellar fields. His moment of the year clearly came with that close call at the Open Championship.  Ultimately finishing in a tie for 4th, it was an all too familiar tale for the Englishman. But the veteran should relish on this layout. He has finished inside the top 12 in three of his last five appearances at Crans. Westwood is generally a very accurate driver and fine iron player, making him an ideal fit for Crans. He also currently sits 4th on tour for scrambling, which is also a vital component to success around here.

Jamie Donaldson
To Win (175/1), To Place (38/1)

Donaldson fits into my overarching mantra this week of course familiarity. The former Ryder Cup star has also enjoyed some excellent results of late, making his selection that wonderful cocktail of form and history. He was close to winning here in 2011 and altogether has three top 10’s around Crans: he also possesses a further four top 25 finishes. He has won at altitude before and comes into this event in excellent shape. He finished in 9th in Scotland and surreptitiously crept up to 5th last week. 

Ashun Wu
To Win (200/1), To Place (43/1)

This one is far more speculative than the Donaldson option. It hinges largely on course credentials, though he conducted himself very well last week in Sweden. He actually sat in 2nd place going into Sunday before a fairly disastrous final round relegated him to a tie for 20th. Wu has missed a lot of cuts this year, though a tie for 5th at the China Open did show his abilities. But Wu’s course history makes him an appealing option in the place markets. He finished 9th on debut two years back and followed that up with a 6th last year. Wu has won European Tour events in three of the last four seasons and could surprise many this week.

The Man to Beat

Matthew Fitzpatrick
To Win (8/1), To Place (7/4)

It’s hard to look past Matthew Fitzpatrick in his quest to ‘three-peat’ this week in Switzerland. The Englishman has looked reinvigorated in recent times. He finished runner-up last week in Sweden to go alongside a runner-up finish at the BMW International Open. He also collected top 20 finishes at both the US Open and Open Championship. Perhaps most impressive was that tie for 4th in Memphis, when he kept the likes of McIlroy and Koepka company all week. I’m swerving McIlroy this week, understandable considering both the price and potential comedown concerns following his obscene payday last week.  

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