Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Omega European Masters Tips 2023

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It wasn’t to be for 20/1 headline selection Nicolai Hojgaard last week in Prague despite contending all week, and if we’re brutally honest having had enough chances to win the event with reasonable comfort over the 4 days. That left the door open for 400/1 shot Todd Clements to impressively win his maiden DP World Tour title, despite never having recorded so much as a top-10 finish at this level before. That’s golf betting in a nutshell.

On to this week we go and with the PGA Tour having concluded its season for now at East Lake, the DP World 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.

With this week being Luke Donald’s last chance to observe some of those players hoping to be in the shake-up for his 6 Captain’s Picks for next month’s Ryder Cup, the field quality is strong with OWGR number 8 and 2-time course winner Matt Fitzpatrick heading the field at 10/1. Robert MacIntyre, Ludvig Aberg, Adrian Meronk, the Hojgaard twins, and Matt Wallace are all in attendance once again as push comes to shove ahead of Donald’s announcement next Monday.

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Crans-Sur-Sierre GC, Crans Montana, Switzerland. Designer: Fremantle and Gedge, 1908 with Ballesteros re-design 1999; Par: 70; Length: 6,808 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 200 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. 2022: Thriston Lawrence, 30/1; 2021: Rasmus Hojgaard, 45/1; 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.

Sunshine and showers is the summary for the 4 days of tournament play with light winds in the 5-10mph bracket. Temperatures will reach the high 60s Fahrenheit in the afternoons after some chilly starts.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the last 12 winners at Crans gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited to this test:

  • 2022, Thriston Lawrence (-18). 309 yards (59th), 48.1% fairways (70th), 76.4% greens in regulation (11th), 70.6% scrambling (17th), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th)
  • 2021, Rasmus Hojgaard (-13). 322 yards (20th), 73.1% fairways (2nd), 77.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 68.8% scrambling (9th), 1.77 putts per GIR (30th)
  • 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, Fitzpatrick 2018, Hojgaard 2021 and Lawrence last year 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.

SG Stats: From a Strokes Gained perspective, the most consistent statistic across all three renewals was SG Tee to Green. What Thriston Lawrence lacked from off the tee, he more than made up for on approach 12 months ago, and all three men had a solid week with the putter:

  • 2022: Thriston Lawrence. T: 58th; A: 1st; T2G: 2nd; ATG: 22nd; P: 19th
  • 2021: Rasmus Hojgaard. T: 2nd; A: 5th; T2G: 8th; ATG: 66th; P: 12th
  • 2019: Sebastian Soderberg. T: 8th; A: 35th; T2G: 9th; ATG: 7th; P: 17th

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

For full SG stats for this week’s field for those events held here at Crans-sur-Sierre since data was captured click here.

Incoming Form: 9 of the last 12 winners here arrived with a top-8 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:

  • 2022, Thriston Lawrence: 18/36/58/MC/18/MC36/3/24/42/MC/8
  • 2021, Rasmus Hojgaard: MC/12/MC/MC/79/MC/55/17/41/MC/38/3
  • 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): Once upon a time, a positive record on this track was generally a good sign given its quirky nature. Both David Lipsky and Richie Ramsay arrived here with patchy course form at best though and the past three winners were all course debutants, so it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all:

  • 2022, Thriston Lawrence: Debut
  • 2021, Rasmus Hojgaard: Debut
  • 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. Hojgaard and Soderberg are both relatively long though and although before that the eventual champions in recent times hadn’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.

With the likes of Rory McIlroy (2019), Pelle Edberg (2015) and Brooks Koepka (2014) also contending in the relatively recent past, it’s clear that this isn’t necessarily a course that fits a single style of play.

My selections are as follows:

Matt Fitzpatrick 4pts enhanced win only 10/1 with bet365

Let’s make no bones about it, Matt Fitzpatrick is the man to beat here this week and despite some decent opposition I expected him to be a shorter price this week so will happily take a chance that he completes a personal Crans hat-trick.

At 8th in the OWGR the Sheffield man is the only player in the world’s top 50 in attendance, and unlike many of those behind him in the betting this week his place on Luke Donald’s team is secure from his 6th place position in the World Points list. We saw last week that the pressure of impressing the boss, the media scrutiny, and some players’ own personal expectations can be a hindrance – the 28 year-old has no such issues this week.

For me, if you gave the 2022 US Open champion 8 or 9 attempts at this event in his current state of game then all things being equal he’d more than justify backing each and every time overall, and although nothing is certain in this game I’ll happily support him here.

2nd at the BMW Championship and 13th last week at East Lake are efforts that eclipse the vast majority of this week’s field in terms of the opposition he was competing against. Matt’s also the type to call his state of game exactly how it is: ahead of the season’s summer Majors he was fairly downbeat about his form, however he’s openly stating that he’s in a much better place right now and that’s got to make him very dangerous this week at a lower level.

And to this point I’ve not even mentioned his record here at Crans-sur-Sierre. Runner-up here in 2015 was followed by a 7th place finish the following year, before he won here twice in successive years in 2017 and 2018. The long game is working lately as is the short game, plus he ranked 1st for SG Putting at the BMW Championship the week before last. Fitz has a great chance of completing the hat-trick here in my view. RESULT: T3

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Alex Fitzpatrick 1pt EW 66/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

It could be a Fitzpatrick 1-2 this week as Matt’s younger brother Alex Fitzpatrick continues to impress at DP World Tour level.

There’s been a certain symmetry to the brothers’ performances over the past fortnight with both men finishing runner up the week before last at the BMW Championship and ISPS World Invitational before finishing 13th and 14th in their respective events last week. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see the pair battling it out in the final group on a Sunday and perhaps it will be as early as this week to continue that consistent string of results between the pair.

Other than perhaps picking his brother’s brains on the intricacies of Crans-sur-Sierre, we’ve got nothing tangible in terms of competitive rounds here to suggest the Alex will be a good fit for this course, although it’s fact that the past 3 winners here were all making their debut appearance in the Swiss Alps. 18th for SG Off the Tee, 7th for SG Tee to Green and 2nd for SG Approach last week in Prague offers encouragement though and he’s got to be approaching this week in confidence fashion.

17th at The Open was an outstanding result on Major debut for Alex – he had the beating of his brother that week with Matt finishing 41st – and he went on to record his maiden professional title a fortnight later at St Mellion on the Challenge Tour.

For me there’s every reason to suspect that there will be two Fitzpatricks on the scene over the years to come and that may will begin with a brotherly tussle at the top of this week’s leaderboard. RESULT: T5

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Hennie du Plessis 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

One player who appeared on a lot of my early analysis for this even before he flashed some form last week was Hennie du Plessis and I’ll happily take a chance on him at a 3-figure price.

Season-long rankings of 3rd for SG Off the Tee, 7th for SG Tee to Green and 11th for GIR gives the South African a full house in the long-game statistical boxes that I want ticked for this week’s task as he looks to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Thriston Lawrence and win here in the Swiss Alps.

2 wins at Sunshine Tour level at least shows an aptitude to get over the line and he’s come close at both LIV level (2nd at the inaugural LIV event at Centurion last June) and again at this year’s Jonsson Workwear Open on home soil at co-sanctioned level.

5 consecutive cuts made on the DP World Tour shows a level of consistency of late, with a third round 63 at the Made In Himmerland the standout low round during that spell, however it was his brief foray to the top of the leaderboard last week in Prague that caught my eye more than anything given that he was already on my watch list for this week. 7 under through 12 holes on Saturday saw the 26 year-old leap to the top of the pile before his round stalled and the later starters began accumulating birdies, however it would have been a positive experience for him to be back in the mix for a while. A Sunday round of 71 meant he finished in a tie for 25th and well and truly off the bookies’ radar heading into this week.

16th last year here at Crans on debut is positive: middle rounds of 66 and 64 after a slow start put the South African on the fringes of contention heading into Sunday when he was still making his first few tentative steps back onto the DP World Tour following the briefest of LIV excursions. A solid long-game performance was let down around the greens here 12 months, ranking 77th of 79 players to make the cut on that count. 2nd for SG Around the Green last week suggests he’s in a much better place in that respect 12 months on. RESULT: T47

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Edoardo Molinari 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

One storyline to catch my eye last week was that of Edoardo Molinari and his switch to the long putter after a chat with Adam Scott at the Scottish Open last month.

Back in the days when both Molinari brothers were contending for Ryder Cup starts, a fair summary of their relative skills would be that Francesco was a ball-striking machine who struggled on the greens, whereas Edoardo wasn’t far off the polar opposite.

Little remains constant in the world of golf and it’s been clear to see – and Dodo is the first to admit himself – he’s putted poorly for years now while at the same time his ball-striking has reached new levels, however perhaps now this change in the flat stick will see a step change in performance, particularly now that he’s far more confident over those troublesome short putts.

If last week’s effort in Prague is anything to go by, where he ultimately finished 11th on a course that doesn’t play to his strengths, then we should all take note. 9th for putts per GIR at 1.65 was his best in-field ranking on that metric for nearly 4 years, and with just 108 putts in total that’s the first time that he’s led the field for total putts since 2014. Ironically, or perhaps interestingly is a better adverb to use, that effort 9 years ago came at this week’s venue where he finished 13th.

Aside from that effort here at Crans, the 42 year-old has also finished 14th (2009) and 12th (2011) around these parts, as well as most notably 2nd here in 2010 when only a masterclass from Miguel Angel Jimenez kept him winning what would have been back-to-back events and a third title of that season. RESULT: MC

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Nick Bachem 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

Finally, the last 3 winners of the Omega Masters have been course debutants arriving off the back of a top 10 finish. If that trend were to continue then the winner will come from Ludvig Aberg, Yannik Paul, last week’s winner Todd Clements or talented young German Nick Bachem, and at a tasty each-way price I’ll back latter.

3 wins on the Pro Golf tour as an amateur in a 16-month spell in 2020/21 earmarked the 23 year-old as a player to keep a close eye on, and it didn’t take long for the Cologne man to break through on the DP World Tour after his promotion via Q-School, winning the Jonnson Workwear Open in March in impressive fashion, holding off Zander Lombard and the aforementioned Hennie du Plessis by 4 strokes.

Although much longer on paper, the venue for that week Steyn City is another altitude test where calculations need to be made to each and every shot, a task which he completed with aplomb, and there’s hope that he can do the same here this week on his first attempt at the course.

Stats-wise, Bachem ranks 5th for the season for SG Off the Tee which ties in nicely with the winning performances here of both Sebastian Soderberg and Rasmus Hojgaard, and as I mentioned in the preamble power from off the tee can undoubtedly work around these parts – at an average of 324 yards and 5th on Tour for Driving Distance, Nick has that in abundance.

After a fallow period following his win in South Africa it was interesting to see him bounce back to form last week with a 4th place finish in the Czech Republic, which could well be the precursor to more success. 2nd for both Total Driving and Ball Striking in old money was backed up by SG rankings of 3rd for Off the Tee, 4th for Tee to Green and interestingly 4th also for Around the Green. A very interesting runner this week in my view. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 12:45 BST 28.8.23 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.