It’s Switzerland’s turn on the European Tour this week, more specifically Crans-sur-Sierre golf course in Crans-Montana which will play host to the European Omega Masters. In 2009, the Omega European Masters became the first event to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, something that has become more common since.

This stop is probably the most scenic stop on tour, giving its Swiss mountain setting and plenty of players have enjoyed playing in this event, with high quality players making up the field in recent years. We have seen major winners, like Rory Mcilroy and Charl Schwartzel here in recent years, and the European Tour welcomes the inclusion of some top names in the field again this week. Just looking at the head of the betting we have some players in the field this week, that we haven’t seen regularly in recent weeks, such as Richard Sterne and Matteo Manassero, a great boost for the tour. Both players will be keen to get going again after their breaks, Sterne in particular and they should both enjoy the venue this week. Talking of the venue, let’s see what sort of challenge Crans-sur-Sierre poses to the players this week.

The Course: Crans-sur-Sierre, Par 71, 6822 yards. There have been several changes made to the course this year, but one main alteration sticks out, and that’s at the 13th hole. This par-3 has been given a whole new dynamic, as two lakes have been added, as per the picture tweeted by defending champion Richie Ramsay Tuesday morning. Other than the 13th, there has been water added to three other holes on the back-9, the 10th, 12th and 17th, meaning a total of six of the 9 holes on the home stretch now have water hazards. These new changes will no doubt have players in tow minds, especially into the par-3 13th and we could see a lot of over compensating as well as disasters coming in. Some players will be able to keep their cool, knowing they can still score and they will adapt to the changes, those players will atop the leaderboard. Hitting greens will be important this week, as the winner has led the field in that area, on three of the last four occasions. The only person winner since 2009 not to do so was Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, but while he was 32nd in Greens in Regulation, he was 5th in Driving Accuracy proving that good ball strikers should feature this week. Jimenez got the win through his fine putting, placing 1st in Putts per round, so if you can keep at least fairly accurate you have the chance to make up for it with the putter.

With the changes made, other players who you may not of fancied before could come into question. Some players are phased by change, and others could thrive under pressure, so don’t be surprised to see an out of favoured winner. Yes the players that hold a good record here should still feature heavily, but the with the changes made the mentality of some may change. It will be interesting to see if the new setup changes the level of scoring, but realistically the winning total should stay pretty low. There are short par 4s that the longer hitters may want to take advantage of, so that may be another angle to consider.

Personally I’m going to be looking at players made up from a list of, in-form players, low scorers, good putters players who find plenty of greens and players who’ve shown good form here at Crans. Amongst those hopefully we will find an overdue winner. It seems a long time since we’ve had reason to really celebrate, and hopefully that changes at this wonderful golf course in Switzerland this week. As there is no event on the PGA Tour this week I’ve gone for five outright selections. Here are my picks for the 2o13 Omega European Masters.

Miguel Angel Jimenez 25/1 (SkyBet, SportingBet, Ladbrokes) 3pts e/w: This man, simply put, loves this course, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. Apart from his win in 2010, Jimenez has two 2nds, a 3rd, and a 4th the highlighted finishes of his 9 top 10s at this course. Had he of not missed the cut last week in Wales, he may well of been favourite and that’s the only reason I can see as to why he’s not the very top of the market. I cannot stress how much Jimenez likes this course, you’ve just got to look at the finishes he has posted. A lot of the time people may be wary of a player of Jimenez’s age being 25/1 or so but he proved with his T11 last year, he’s by no means ready to stop impressing here in Switzerland and his experience may well be the deciding factor. Jimenez has such a patient, laid back approach, that it almost looks as if he doesn’t have a care in the world, and when he’s playing golf he probably doesn’t. This style of play has led him to multiple victories on Tour and should he be in contention come Sunday, you wouldn’t be worried about nerves getting the better of him. He may also be the player that can not ignore, but more, deal with the changes made to the course, regarding the water and make sure it doesn’t effect his performance. He has the best course form of anyone in this field and that is probably not even reflected in his price. You could make a very strong case that he could be the sub-20/1 favourite and he’d still have to be considered. Get involved at 25/1!

Brett Rumford 33/1 (Bet365, Boylesports, Betfred) 2pts e/w: Brett Rumford is again getting himself in contention most weeks on the European Tour, proved once again in recent weeks. Brett has posted five top 10s in 2013, including two wins, and finishes of  T8 and a T6 in his previous two starts. In what has been a great year for Australian golf, Brett Rumford has really shined highlighted by two wins. Not only did he win twice, but he did it back-to-back showing that he can carry good form over from previous weeks, and obviously draws a lot of confidence from recent success. He is in good form once again, after battling through majors and WGC’s and I really think he’s come out the other side, ready to finish the season strong.  His short game is in great shape recently, just like it has been for most of the season and I have no reason to believe that won’t continue at a course Rumford clearly has a liking for. Not only is he a winner of this event, back in 2007, but he’s also followed that up with T23 (2008), T32 (2009), T13 (2010), T65 (2011) and most recently T19 in 2012. The consistency he’s shown here at this golf course, really is up there with the best and I’m happy to ignore his T65 in 2011 as a minor blip. He really is on top of his game, and to go from N0.225 in the world, to his current ranking of No.78 will be a massive confidence boost, if he needed any more. I’m struggling to find a down point to selecting Rumford this week, and that’s why I’m happy to pick him again this week, at a very reasonable 33/1.

Peter Ulhein 40/1 (General) 1.5pts e/w: Peter Ulhein, once again went close last week, and the American would of been frustrated to not get over the line. However this guy is full of positivity, and why shouldn’t he be? Ulhein has six top 10s on Tour this season, including a win at the Madeira Islands and a 2nd last week in Wales. Elsewhere he has placed 4th at the Tshwane Open (South Africa), T10 in the BMW International Open (Germany), T10 in the Scottish Open and T8 at the Open De Espana. This to me suggests that, no matter where he plays his golf on the European Tour, he’s proving to be comfortable with his game. He also came T12 on his debut at Wentworth for BMW PGA, a flagship event on Tour. Why do I think he’ll go well this week? Well there’s several other reasons other than what’s already been mentioned, so I will try to keep it as brief as possible. He’s 48th in Greens in Regulation, yes whilst this is not up the very top, it’s more than respectable, and once making the Greens in Regulation he’s 2oth in putting (Putts per GIR stat), so he’s obviously converting opportunities. He’s also 6th in Stroke Average, and even that’s an injustice to his incredible form as the players above him in that ranking have played fewer rounds. I think he should of sealed the deal last week, and in time I don’t think he loses that on Sunday, but take nothing away from eventual Gregory Bourdy as he finished very strongly. The only other performance that puts me off, is the Irish Open, where again Ulhein was in contention and finished poorly. I do think 40/1 is probably the righ price based on the fact that although he’s undoubtedly having a great first season, he does seem to struggle on occasions when in contention. Hopefully he can shake off the demons from last week and put in another winning-worthy performance, and I feel he has every chance of doing so.

Emiliano Grillo 80/1 (Bet365, Betfred, SportingBet) 1pt e/w: When mentioning Greens in Regulation as a vital statistic, it’s good to be able to turn to No.3 on that list and say “yeah he’d have a chance” and that was exactly what I thought when looking at Grillo this week. For a good period of time during this season it’s looked a though Grillo could come out and win an event, something he’s yet to do, but I do believe that now he’s in good form again he could go well here. In his last two starts, Grillo has finished T18 at the Wales Open and T6 at the Johnnie Walker Championship so he comes in to this week in good stead. Although this is his debut I am happy to consider him at 80/1 when looking at his suitability (Greens in Regulation ranking) and his current form, and hopefully the young Argentine can get off the mark. Apart from his 3rd in Greens in Regulation ranking, he also comes in at 25 for Driving Accuracy so he’s keeping the ball on the short stuff well, and should his putter get hot he could be in for another big week, to add to an already decent season. Putting has let him down in the past, but his recent finishes suggests that maybe coming together and let’s hope he puts it all together here.

Jaco Van Zyl 90/1 (SportingBet) 1pt e/w: Van Zyl does not feature week in week out on Tour, and that may be a big reason behind his lack of consistency. He’s played a much more limited schedule this year than he has in previous seasons, and that has shown so far in a mixed bag of results. As a South African he’s obviously keen to be involved at the start of the year for ” South Africa swing” if you want to call it that. Three events were played in South Africa, following the two early season openers in the middle east, and as expected Van Zyl played, and played well. I tipped him early on in the year to win the Africa Open where he unfortunately just missed out, finishing T2, just a week after finished T11 at the Joburg Open. You would expect to him to play well in his home events, and although he’s not a player I follow religiously, it is good to see how he’s done in previous years at tournaments when he’s participating in a particular week. This week at Omega Masters, we can look back on his two previous showings and see that he finished, T14 last year and T3 the year before that, very impressive. When he came T3 back in 2011, Van Zyl was enjoying some good form, coming off the back of finishes of T11, T51, T11, T13  in the previous four weeks. This obviously gave the South African the confidence he needed to get round this track, as just a year later he posted another good round, coming T14. The difference being that in 2012 he wasn’t enjoying the same run of form leading up to this tournament, with two missed cuts, a T37 and a T55 in his four previous starts, this does however work in our favour. As Van Zyl hasn’t shown anything fantastic this year, he price is still big enough to be worth a second look and at 90/1 I’m happy to get involved. Had he of played since the US PGA, and played well he could be almost half that price, and considering he finished well again last year off the back of a string of poor results I’m happy to give him another chance to prove himself in Switzerland.

 

Total Points staked this week: 17

Profit/Loss for 2013: +42.2

This is a great week to focus all our attention on the European Tour, as we have a week break on the PGA Tour, before resuming the FedEx Cup play offs at the BMW Championship next week. We are looking to get back on track in terms of profit, with a winner more than welcome this week. I’m confident as ever that the selections above can give us a great run, and hopefully they all feature come Sunday! As ever follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8

 

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