Frazzled previews the Omega European Masters from Crans Sur Sierre with picks of Victor Dubuisson, Paul Peterson and Jaco Van Zyl.
Event & Venue:
After the dramatic finish to The Open at St Andrews which extended into Monday and then into a playoff, the Tours take a little bit of a breather with lower key events in Canada and Switzerland this week. However it would be wrong to label this 81st renewal of the Omega European Masters (formerly the Swiss Open) as anything other than high class.
The event has been switched from its September slot (after the Ryder Cup last year) and the executive have been rewarded with a much better class of field than in recent years, with a number of European elite players such as Sergio Garcia making the trip over to Switzerland and even Patrick Reed has been persuaded to delay his return to the States in order to take in this event.
Once again the event takes place at Crans Sur Sierre Golf Club, Crans Montana, Switzerland and this mountainous course offers some of the most breathtaking views in golf, with such spectacular sites as the Pleine Morte Glacier and great views of the mountain ranges and valleys beneath.
It opened in 1908 and was redesigned in 1929, before Seve Ballesteros carried out a further redesign in 1999. There has not been widespread acclaim for how the great Spaniard configured the course and there have been consistent changes over the past number of years with many of the holes being re-modelled. This continued last year, but there is minimal changes to the course for the 2015 renewal. However the first hole has now been reduced to a Par 4 and measures what looks a very long 540 Yards. It played as a very easy Par 5 last year with an average score of 4.34, but will now be a very difficult opening hole for the players that start from the first tee. In contrast, the 559 yard 14th hole has been returned to Par 5 status and as it averaged 4.27 last year, this should be one of the easiest Par 5 holes that will be played anywhere in 2015.re
The course will again measure 6,848 yards for this event from the back tees and will play to a Par 70 and with the extended ball flight of up to 10% at this altitude, it plays as possibly the shortest course that these players will encounter at a main tour venue. However what it lacks in distance requirements it more than makes up for in the accuracy and supreme ball striking that it will require from the players this week.
This mainly tree lined course consists of relatively narrow fairways, but these are much more testing that their width would suggest as due to being played on a mountainside, finding the middle will be crucial as the severe undulations can result in what appeared to be a perfectly accurate drive running off the fairways and into trouble.
In contrast to last year, it has been one of the driest summers in the region for a long time and as a result the rough is much lighter, despite measuring 83mm. However the fairways and greens will be firmer and this will make control the ball with approach shots more difficult.
Once again, finding the very small upturned saucer like Greens In Regulation consistently will be crucial and 6 of the last 9 winners ranked 1st or second in GIR. It will be inevitable that many greens will be missed however and with the many run off areas around them, scrambling skills will be essential in order to challenge on Sunday.
Course form is also very important this week as is form at venues that have shown remarkable consistency in form their links with Crans Sur Sierre. Specifically I refer to Doha (home of the Qatar Masters) and Gleneagles (home of the Johnnie Walker). In addition form at other venues such as the short, tight Palais Royal course (home of the Trophee Hassan and containing 5 Par3s like this week), Blackstone Golf Club (home of the Ballantines Championship) and Valderrama (home of the Andalucia Masters) is a very useful guide to this week and should be looked at closely.
Despite some of the difficulties that have been pointed out, this is still going to be a test of how low a player can go and something in the region of -18 or lower will be required again this week. It has required -20 or better in 3 of the last 5 renewals, but with the firmer conditions likely to increase the difficulty levels, the winning score might be slightly higher as a result.
We will not be going crazy at the outset and Bernd Wiesberger has been reluctantly left out as his price of 16/1 is just a little too short, despite his compelling recent form and course form. Instead we will side with Victor Dubuisson, who has excelled here in the past, with a 3rd in quite similar conditions in 2013 and who was building up a consistent sequence of results prior to missing the cut at St Andrews last week.
He only missed out on the weekend by one shot, but as a result he will be fresh this week and his precise iron play and excellent around the green skills should make him hard to keep out of the frame. The 25/1 with Sportingbet, who are paying 6 places is where to back him this week and he is our first selection.
1.5 points each way Victor Dubuisson at 25/1 with Sportingbet (each way 6 places).
Paul Peterson appeals as a player that could really take to this venue and potentially emulate shock winner David Lipsky, by producing a very big display while still plying his trade on the Asian Tour. Peterson is having a very solid year on the Asian Tour with a plethora of Top 10 finishes including his most recent 6th in the Queens Cup at the end of June.
He has also performed with credit in the European Tour events as he was 5th in the Malaysia Open in February and 10th in the Indian Open later that month. This event obviously contains a classier field, but it is not hugely deep and his display in the Thailand Golf Championship last December in a field containing Westwood, Kaymer, Fleetwood, Garcia and Jaidee, shows he can certainly mix it with the best, as he was 10th despite a poor third round of 75.
This venue should really suit Peterson as he is a short hitter, but he is very accurate from tee to green and is an excellent scrambler. He ranks 1st in Scrambling based on a small number of events on the European Tour and 18th in GIR. He is also 8th in Driving Accuracy and 15th in GIR on the Asian Tour and this tight short venue is perfect for his game.
It is asking a lot for him to win, but we will play him in a few markets, including first round leader in the hope that he can really take a shine to this test.
0.5 points each way Paul Peterson at 150/1 with BetVictor and Boylesports.
0.5 points each way Paul Peterson First Round Leader at 125/1 with BetVictor
1.5 points win Paul Peterson - Top 20 Finish at 11/2 with BetVictor and 888sport
Jaco Van Zyl:
Jaco Van Zyl is our final pick this week as he seeks to build on an excellent display in the Open De France, when he only faded in the final round with a closing 73, but still managed to secure 3rd place behind Wiesberger. This was probably the best display on the European Tour from the South African and he now returns to a venue where he has been 3rd, 14th and 22nd in 3 visits. He also arrives here in better form than usual as his form can tail off when the European Tour hits mainland Europe.
Van Zyl is perfectly suited to this venue as he is a short hitter that has an accurate tee to green game and he is excellent around the green (ranks 13th in Scrambling). He is also very used to playing at altitude in the South African events and his form on a tight tree lined relatively exposed layout at East London in the Africa Open is an additional pointer to this week.
He looks decent value at 66/1 with Stan James and again we will play in the Top 20 finish market where he is available at 11/4 with the same firm.
0.75 points each way Jaco Van Zyl at 66/1 with Stan James
1.5 points win Jack Van Zyl at - Top 20 finish at 11/4 with Stan James