The European Tour makes its annual trip to Switzerland this week, with Crans-sur-Sierre once again staging the Omega European Masters, writes Phil Casey.
Unquestionably the most picturesque venue on the calendar, Crans provides a quirky test with narrow fairways, small greens and amazing views down the mountain, while the high altitude renders almost everyone in the field a big hitter – for one week at least.
The tournament has produced a list of high-class champions, including course re-designer Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Alex Noren, who won the title for the second time last year.
And with course form potentially vital on a tricky layout, it is no surprise to see Noren made a 10/1 favourite to claim a seventh European Tour title since 2015.
However, Noren has not played since the US PGA Championship and has recently been focused more on his recent wedding, so it is hard to judge what sort of form the world number 12 will be in.
At the top of the market, Westwood arguably offers the most appeal at 28/1 on the back of his tie for ninth in the Czech Masters last week, his victory in 1999 and three top-six finishes in his last five appearances in Switzerland.
But for the first of our European Masters betting predictions, we’re going to take a chance on fellow Englishman James Morrison, who was fifth in Prague on Sunday and could easily have done even better after a brilliant front nine of 31 got him firmly into contention.
Nevertheless, that was still a first top-10 finish since March for the two-time European Tour winner, who missed the cut on his first four visits to Crans but has since finished 25th and 18th. He can be backed at 90/1.
Given Morrison’s performance last week, it is somewhat surprising that he is a higher price than the next of our European Masters betting tips, with Richard Bland available at 80/1 as he seeks that elusive maiden European Tour title.
Bland enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016 with seven top-10 finishes and although he has not been as consistent this year, he was second in the BMW International Open and fifth in Crans 12 months ago, aided by a 64 in round two.
Also available at odds of 80/1 is our third choice of Renato Paratore, who won the Nordea Masters earlier this season and plays at a refreshingly quick pace which should be the model for his fellow professionals.
Paratore’s recent form is nothing to write home about but he was seventh last year alongside our final European Masters selection, Germany’s Florian Fritsch.
Fritsch’s fear of flying means his choice of events is limited by where he can reasonably get to by car, so it’s perhaps no wonder that he enjoys Crans and has finished seventh in each of the last two seasons.
The 31-year-old has won eight times on smaller tours – including in the Nordic Golf League this season – and can be backed at 125/1 in the outright market or 11/1 for a top 10.
Best bets for the Omega European Masters
James Morrison @ 90/1
Richard Bland @ 80/1
Renato Paratore @ 80/1
Florian Fritsch @ 125/1
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