Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Omega European Masters Tips 2021

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With the PGA Tour Playoffs continuing, the European Tour continues its journey into the mainland this week as we make our annual pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps and the beautiful Crans-Sur-Sierre Golf Club.

After a decidedly unappealing betting market last week, we’re blessed with something a whole lot more appetising this week, with a full field of 156 headed by Bernd Wiesberger at a best price of 25/1 at the time of writing. Thomas Detry, Thomas Pieters, Calum Hill, Richard Bland and Sam Horsfield are all around the 30/1 to 33/1 mark in what is a marked improvement in quality over last week’s affair in Prague.

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Crans-Sur-Sierre GC, Crans Montana, Switzerland. Designer: Fremantle and Gedge, 1908 with Ballesteros re-design 1999; Par: 70; Length: 6,848 yards; Fairways: Poa/Rye; Rough: Poa/Rye; Greens: Bent/Poa, 10’6″ on the stimp.

Course Overview. This quirky, sub-7,000 yard, par 70 is played at altitude in the Swiss Alps. The course is a tree-lined, undulating test with tiny bent/poa greens guarded by bunkers and run-off areas which have been toughened up further following tweaks over the past few years.

Four of the par-4s measure less than 400 yards whereas two stretch over 500 yards, plus there are five par-3s between 175 and 235 yards, however with the undulation changes and altitude the holes don’t necessarily play as the card suggests.

The front-9 contains three of the sub-400 yard par-4s from the stretch from the 5th to 7th, however it’s the final hole of that trio that presents the best opportunity for the brave, with birdies and eagles available for all who successfully take it on. Back-to-back reachable par-5s at the 14th and 15th also present opportunities, and taking advantage of these scoring holes whilst navigating safely around the remainder of the course is how the more aggressive types might prevail.

omega european masters tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Omega European Masters that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2019: Sebastian Soderberg, 275/1, 2018: Matthew Fitzpatrick, 12/1; 2017: Matthew Fitzpatrick, 30/1; 2016: Alexander Noren, 18/1; 2015: Danny Willett, 16/1; 2014: David Lipsky, 125/1; 2013: Thomas Bjorn, 40/1; 2012, Richie Ramsay, 80/1; 2011; Thomas Bjorn, 55/1; 2010: Miguel Angel Jimenez, 18/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Crans Montana is here.

Mainly dry this week with temperatures reaching the low-60s Fahrenheit after some chilly morning starts. Winds will light to moderate, peaking at 10-15mph at times.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the last 10 winners at Crans gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited to this test:

  • 2019, Sebastian Soderberg (-14). 327 yards (21st), 59.6% fairways (31st), 70.8% greens in regulation (33rd), 71.4% scrambling (3rd), 1.67 putts per GIR (6th)
  • 2018, Matt Fitzpatrick (-17). 278 yards (63rd), 71.2% fairways (1st), 77.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 37.5% scrambling (25th), 1.68 putts per GIR (8th)
  • 2017, Matt Fitzpatrick (-14). 296 yards (44th), 66.7% fairways (16th), 74.1% greens in regulation (13th), 78.6% scrambling (2nd), 1.65 putts per GIR (8th)
  • 2016, Alex Noren (-17). 301 yards (39th), 51.9% fairways (49th), 70.8% greens in regulation (26th), 95.2% scrambling (1st), 1.73 putts per GIR (23rd)
  • 2015, Danny Willett (-17). 308 yards (15th), 55.8% fairways (55th), 77.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 56.3% scrambling (35th), 1.68 putts per GIR (15th).
  • 2014, David Lipsky (-18). 298 yards (39th), 75.0% fairways (3rd), 83.3% greens in regulation (2nd), 75.0% scrambling (2nd), 1.72 putts per GIR (31st).
  • 2013, Thomas Bjorn (-20). 313 yards (29th), 65.4% fairways (24th), 72.2% greens in regulation (17th), 90.0% scrambling (1st), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2012, Richie Ramsay (-16). 275 yards (58th), 66.7% fairways (20th), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 54.5% scrambling (46th), 1.71 putts per GIR (20th).
  • 2011, Thomas Bjorn (-20). 303 yards (24th), 82.7% fairways (1st), 80.6% greens in regulation (1st), 50.0% scrambling (51st), 1.69 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2010, Miguel Angel Jimenez (-21). 308 yards (18th), 73.1% fairways (5th), 66.7% greens in regulation (32nd), 75.0% scrambling (6th), 1.54 putts per GIR (2nd).

Historically there have been 2 differing approaches to success here at Crans – either playing a conservative, high GIR game and putting well enough on the week to get the job done (Els 2003, Dredge 2006, Luquin 2008, Noren 2009, Bjorn 2011, Ramsay 2012, Bjorn 2013, Lipsky 2014, Willett 2015 and Fitzpatrick in 2018 all succeeded in this fashion); alternatively relying on an outstanding short game is the other route to victory as ably demonstrated by Karlsson (2002), Donald (2004), Rumford (2007), Jimenez (2010), Noren (2016) and Soderberg (2019).

Only Garcia in 2005 and Fitzpatrick in 2017 really displayed a more balanced pattern of stats on the week, however both are excellent ball-strikers first and foremost.

From a Strokes Gained perspective, stats were captured for 4 of the 5 players who made the play-off here 2 years ago, with Rory McIlroy being the odd one out. As per the history stats above, a mix of long game and short game styles contended, however putting stats were all relatively positive for the key contenders:

  • 1st: Sebastian Soderberg. T: 8th; A: 35th; T2G: 9th; ATG: 7th; P: 17th
  • 2nd: Lorenzo Gagli. T: 7th; A: 6th; T2G: 10th; ATG: 61st; P:18th
  • 2nd: Andres Romero. T: 37th; A: 42nd; T2G: 32nd; ATG: 13th; P: 4th
  • 2nd: Kalle Samooja. T: 23rd; A: 59th; T2G: 45th; ATG: 33rd; P: 1st

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

Incoming Form: 7 of the last 10 winners here arrived with a top-7 finish recorded in their previous event and all had a top-10 finish in their last 10 starts at the very least, so some solid recent form looks preferable. All winners had also recorded a minimum of one top-5 finish in the season or, in the case of Noren, Bjorn and Jimenez, a victory on Tour:

  • 2019, Sebastian Soderberg: MC/MC/MC/21/14/WD/41/MC/MC/5
  • 2018, Matt Fitzpatrick: 30/12/27/MC/14/MC/48/MC/36/7
  • 2017, Matt Fitzpatrick: 12/2/35/MC/54/MC/44/50/MC/54
  • 2016, Alex Noren: 9/MC/43/12/MC/8/1/46/49/2
  • 2015, Danny Willett: 29/MC/38/3/MC/38/6/MC/MC/6
  • 2014, David Lipsky: 18/10/MC/58/2/15/19/24
  • 2013, Thomas Bjorn: 4/2/2/18/8/MC/73/MC/MC/58
  • 2012, Richie Ramsay: 52/2/16/MC/MC/16/MC/MC/MC/6
  • 2011, Thomas Bjorn: 15/MC/WD/MC/57/MC/4/68/MC/1
  • 2010, Miguel Angel Jimenez: 8/MC/49/1/MC/27/22/MC/7/3

Event Form (1996 Onwards): A positive record on this track is generally a good sign given its quirky nature. This is the type of event that tends to see a similar set of players feature year-in, year-out, however both David Lipsky and Richie Ramsay arrived here with patchy course form at best, so it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all:

  • 2019, Sebastian Soderberg: Debut
  • 2018, Matt Fitzpatrick: MC/2/7/1
  • 2017, Matt Fitzpatrick: MC/2/7
  • 2016, Alex Noren: 66/MC/1/MC/9/27
  • 2015, Danny Willett: 23/42/25/2/26/5
  • 2014, David Lipsky: 59/MC
  • 2013, Thomas Bjorn: 8/MC/30/2/2/WD/23/26/MC/15/1/MC
  • 2012, Richie Ramsay: MC/MC/34
  • 2011, Thomas Bjorn: 8/MC/30/2/2/WD/23/26/MC/15
  • 2010, Miguel Angel Jimenez: 8/55/7/6/21/46/63/8/2/13/37/MC/3/4

Those with either a high GIR game or excellent short game can succeed here, however it’s clear that despite its lack of length this course favours neither the longer nor shorter hitters.

Whilst the eventual champions in recent times haven’t been exceptionally long drivers of the golf ball, that fact could have had an entirely different spin on it had Scott Hend converted either of his play-off chances in 2016 and 2017, or if Lucas Bjerregaard had overcome Matt Fitzpatrick in 2018, and with the likes of Rory McIlroy (2019), Pelle Edberg (2015) and Brooks Koepka (2014) also contending in the recent past, it’s clear that this isn’t necessarily a course that fits a single style of play.

My selections are as follows:

Kalle Samooja 1.5pts EW 45/1 (5EW, 1/4) with bet365

In an attractive betting heat for once on the European Tour, Kalle Samooja makes most appeal near the top of the market given the prices on offer.

Favourite Bernd Wiesberger has been solid if unspectacular since his Made In Himmerland success at the end of May, and whilst he deserves to top the bookies’ lists, he’ll have to improve drastically on some poor outings here at Crans over recent times, having show some promise when finishing 6th here in 2012.

Samooja, on the other hand, arrives here in progressive form having followed up a mid-division effort at The Olympics with an 8th place finish at the London Club a week or so ago where he topped SG Tee to Green, was 2nd for SG Approach and also ranked 6th for SG Around the Green. Impressive stats it has to be said with just the putter misbehaving on the week, however he returns to the scene of his first real chance of securing a European Tour title this week looking to go one better than the play-off defeat that he endured here 2 years ago. The 33 year-old topped the SG Putting stats that week and took to the putting surfaces very nicely indeed.

Another close call followed for the Finn last autumn when he once again succumbed in extra holes, this time to Callum Shinkwin in Cyprus, however he’s not been deterred by those setbacks it would seem and finishes of 4th in Dubai, 3rd and 9th in Tenerife, and his effort last time out would suggest that he’s on the brink of a breakthrough.

Finnish golf is in the ascendancy right now with Samooja and Mikko Korhonen both threatening to build on Sami Valimaki’s breakthrough season last year. Tapio Pulkkanen came within a couple of holes of breaking his European Tour duck last week in Prague and perhaps Kalle can build on that and go one further here this week on a course that clearly suits his eye. RESULT: MC

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Richie Ramsay 1.5pts EW 50/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

There were plenty of players of interest at mid-prices.

Richard Bland is contending more frequently and with freedom nowadays and could well build on his 3rd place finish in Kent on his last outing, having previously finished 5th here at Crans in the past.

Dean Burmester could take the aggressive route to taming this layout and improve markedly on a pair of missed cuts from his last two attempts here; at a similar price, Justin Harding could go well on his Crans debut. Instead though, I’m backing the course-proven Richie Ramsay who’s been hinting at a return to the winner’s enclosure before too long.

4th at the Irish Open, 15th at the Scottish Open, 25th at the Cazoo Open, 28th at the Hero Open and 9th at the Cazoo Classic is a strong run of results for the Aberdeen man and the normally dependable tee-to-green merchant has his short game to largely thank for his uptick in results. 11th for SG Putting at the Irish Open and 2nd on the same count at the Scottish Open are noteworthy for a player like Ramsay, and although he couldn’t hit the same levels over the following two starts – resulting in those top-30 finishes – he seemingly worked it out ahead of his last outing in Kent where he once again impressed with the putter, ranking 5th for SG Putting.

Since 2013, Thomas Bjorn, Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick have all recorded a second career victory here in the Swiss Alps and Richie will be looking to follow that trio’s lead this week. 2012 saw the 38 year-old finish 4 strokes ahead of the field here, and with confidence flowing through his game a follow-up success almost a decade further on wouldn’t surprise. RESULT: MC

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Wade Ormsby 1pt EW 90/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Certain tracks present more opportunities to a player like Wade Ormsby than others and the biggest surprise for me is that it took the Australian 10 attempts here at Crans to record a competitive total. Twice a winner in Hong Kong is a good marker for this test, as is a win in Delhi on another comparable track, so a decent outing was long overdue before he arrived here in 2019.

Last time we visited these parts, rounds of 66,64 & 67 saw the 41 year-old sit in 2nd place heading into Sunday and in with a real chance of securing his second European Tour title on a short, quirky course that suits his style of game. A Sunday 71 was never going to suffice, however his effort to that point was good enough for a note ahead of future appearances here.

In recent times, 12th at the Scottish Open was impressive enough in decent company and Wade followed that up a fortnight later with a 10th place finish in Wales before jetting off to St Jude for the WGC Invitational. 51st there and a missed cut on his return to European soil have masked what was otherwise some encouraging form and I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see him in the mix this week now that the setup is far more amenable. RESULT: T56

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Lucas Bjerregaard 0.75pt EW 100/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

I backed Lucas Bjerregaard here in 2018 as a 33/1 shot, largely on the presumption that longer hitters could find a way to navigate successfully around these parts, and he so nearly proved me right, ultimately losing out in a play-off to Matt Fitzpatrick.

With Rory McIlroy, Scott Hend, Brooks Koepka, Pelle Edberg and Lucas himself all having come close to securing this title in the recent past, there’s certainly a case for picking a longer hitter who’s taken a shine to the layout in the past. 9th in 2017 had already hinted at the Dane’s liking for the track and even 28th in 2019 was encouraging given that he’d missed 6 of his previous 8 cuts globally.

The truth is though, and the reason that we’re still able to get a 3-figure price about the 30 year-old despite some promising recent outings, is that he’s failed to reach the highs which saw him win twice on the European Tour and creep inside the OWGR top 50. Once a dependable GIR merchant, Lucas’s long game deserted him and missed cuts became commonplace as he came perilously close to dropping out of the world’s top 1,000 earlier this year.

Interesting, and encouraging, then that Bjerregaard has picked up somewhat in recent times. Leading at halfway at the Hero Open last month was his first taste of contention for far too long, fuelled largely by the putter it has to be said, before he drifted to 10th place overall by Sunday evening.

35th at the Cazoo Classic on his last start might sound like a step backwards, however he sat 8th at halfway and was SG positive across the board, so perhaps a visit back to Crans where he’s come close in the past will see further improvement. RESULT: T67

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Shubhankar Sharma 0.75pt EW 125/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

At a similar position in the betting to Bjerregaard, I’m interested in Shubhankar Sharma who’s also showing signs of getting back to his best.

A closing round of 63 at Celtic Manor was noteworthy, despite it only elevating him to 32nd place overall, and he’s shown progressive form since with a 30th place finish the week after in Northern Ireland, 16th in Scotland and then 9th last time out in Kent.

3rd & 7th for Driving Accuracy and 14th & 17th for GIR over his last two outings have been the main reasons for his continued progression; 12th and 13th respectively for SG Approach reinforces the view that he’s found something positive with his long game recently and that should translate well to this week’s task.

Twice a winner on the European Tour at the 2017 Joburg Open and 2018 Maybank Championship, it’s the Indian’s peripheral results that interest most. 6th and 10th at the Hong Kong Open over the years translates well to contenders – and winners – here at Crans over the years, and a pair of 4th place finishes in Delhi is also positive given how that track sets up.

A missed cut here on his only start in 2018 is a negative, granted, however he’d failed to break the top 50 in his previous 5 starts and arrives here this week in far better shape. RESULT: T50

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Soren Kjeldsen 0.5pt EW 150/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Finally, I’m taking a chance on Soren Kjeldsen who could strike another blow for the more ‘experienced’ members of the European Tour this week.

At the age of 46, perhaps the Dane’s opportunities to add to his 4 trophies are starting to dwindle as tracks get progressively longer, however this week’s venue negates all of that with its yardage and altitude; with the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn, we’ve seen players of a similar vintage succeed here in the recent enough past and perhaps Soren can do the same.

A sparkling record at Valderrama over the years is positive for this week, despite Crans not presenting the same level of difficulty; 4th and 6th at the Fanling-hosted Hong Kong Open is perhaps more relevant, then of course we have a 4th place finish here in the Swiss Alps, albeit 15 years ago.

The most encouraging pointer for this bet though is that Kjeldsen finished 7th last week at the Czech Masters on a track that sets up far better for players who can knock it 30 or 40 yards past our man with consummate ease. 1st for SG Putting was where the damage was done, however if the flat stick can stay hot on a course that’s considerably more to his liking then he could reward each-way backers this week. RESULT: T32

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:30BST 23.8.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.