The 2019 Omega European Masters (Aug 29 – Sept 1) takes the European Tour to Switzerland’s beautiful mountain-resort of Crans-sur-Sierre this week. The event was first played here in 1939 and it has been part of the European Tour schedule since the European Tour began in 1972.
The course bears little resemblance to most modern layouts and the par 70 is one of the few sub-7,000-yard courses that is still used. But despite players having to make yardage adjustments for playing at altitude and having to putt on smaller than average greens that get crustier as the day progresses, the spectacular mountain views guarantee a high-class field. That’s especially true this year, as it has attracted several PGA Tour regulars with the PGA Tour taking a break after its thrilling FedEx Cup Playoff Final.
The 2019 FedEx Cup was won by Rory McIlroy and, despite him now being $15 Million richer, the new world number two is honouring his commitment to play at the 2019 Omega European Masters. It’s an event that McIlroy has yet to win, but he played here three times between 2008 and 2011, finishing second, seventh, and third. That form suggests he could win in cruise control this week, but it’s still asking a lot of him to be at his peak just four days after his Tour Championship exertions, especially as he had to play over 30 holes on Sunday. McIlroy also isn’t much of a price at 4/1, with only one bookmaker, at the time of writing, willing to offer ¼ odds to punters who think he looks an each-way bet to nothing.
It’s also easy to see why the bookies aren’t willing to offer any bigger than 8/1 about Matt Fitzpatrick. Having missed the cut on his debut here in 2014, Fitzpatrick has since finished 2/7/1/1. What was even more impressive about the first of those victories was that he came into the event in terrible form. The course clearly suits his skillset, which includes accurate driving, hitting plenty of greens in regulation, and the ability to scramble when he misses the greens. He’ll surely go well again if his putter is hot, and it’s impossible to leave him out of this week’s staking plan after he finished second last week.
There are plenty of other impressive players in this week’s line-up including Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace, Alex Noren, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, and recent winners Erik Van Rooyen and Thomas Pieters.
But this week’s second fancy at a bigger price is Andrew “Beef” Johnston. After emerging from a bout of depression and a dip in form, he’s posted two top-10s in his last three events. He also finished third here in 2016 and he could be ready for a return to the winner’s enclosure.
It could also be worth taking a chance on three golfers that have shown a liking for Crans-sur-Sierre in the past, Wu Ashun, Hideto Tanihara, and Scott Hend.
Wu Ashun is one of the European Tour’s shortest hitters and this course gives him a chance to compete against the best in Europe. He caught the eye last when finishing 20th after taking a few weeks off and that outing may well have been a warm-up for this week. He finished ninth in 2017 and 6th in 2018 and he looks worth chancing at triple-figure odds.
There’s no getting away from the fact Scott Hend is enduring a terrible run of form, having finished no better than 71st on his last five outings. But at a 250/1, it’s worth remembering the 46-year-old Australian finished runner-up here in both 2016 and 2017, when he could have easily won the tournament on both occasions.
Hideto Tanihara is another forgotten player, due to his current poor run of form, but he did finish eighth only four starts ago. Like Wu Ashun, he’s another player whose lack of power off the tee won’t hinder him at this venue. He also went well on his tournament debut last year, shooting opening rounds of 65 and 66 to lead the tournament at halfway before a third round 71 derailed his challenge. However, he rallied well on Sunday to shoot 68 and finish sixth, and he completes this week’s staking plan at a massive price.