Selectabet: Omega European Masters
August 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Date: 1st – 4th September 2011
Competition: Omega European Masters
The race to qualify for José Maria Olazábal’s Ryder Cup team begins in earnest on the Big Tours most spectacular destinations at the breath-taking Crans-sur-Sierre this week. The tournament signals the beginning of Olazábal’s captaincy and a journey that will lead him and his final 12-man Team to Medinah Country Club in Chicago, Illinois, to defend The Ryder Cup Trophy that Europe reclaimed at Celtic Manor last year.
Up for grabs this week is 333,000 gold sovereigns put directly into a suitably Swiss, and in no way dodgy or tax avoiding, bank account – wink, wink, say no more, if you know what I mean.
Venue: Crans-Sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland (Severiano Ballesteros Course)
If golf was meant to be played in spectacular settings, you will find nowhere better than Crans-sur-Sierre. Perched at 5000 feet above sea-level, you are not just continually looking at stunning high Alpine scenery, you are part of it. The championship Ballesteros layout carries the great man’s name following design improvements he made to the course where the holes will fairly challenge; sometimes a little bit tight between the tree-lined fairways; and at others, reveling in the openness of the summer pasture environment. In winter, skiers’ wizz down the fairways at speed, but with the timing of a Swiss timepiece, from late-Spring to early-Autumn the sound of club on ball is all that is heard on this natural alpine layout.
Yards: 6,822 yards
Par: Par 71
This week’s field contains 6 of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup winning team of 2010 and major champions including Darren Clarke (71/1), Louis Oosthuizen (86/1), Todd Hamilton (579/1) and Michael Campbell (593/1 – all at BetDaq). As an Asian Tour co-sanctioned event, also expect a high quantity of high caliber players with unpronounceable names including Seung-Yul Noh (40/1 at Bwin and BetFred), Pariya Junhasavasdikul (474/1 at Betfair), Udorn Duangdecha (678/1 at BetDaq) and Namchok Tantipokhakul (764/1 at BetDaq).
A great tournament to watch – although our friends at Sky Sports may revel in the scenery more than the golf at times. Expect longer than average ball flight in the thin mountain air which on a course measuring no more than an old school course off the whites – it’s a veritable pitch and putt and scoring will be low. -21 won last year but despite the Jimenez (36/1 at BetDaq) victory, it is a course favoured by the fit young things due to its undulating terrain.
Ones to watch:
I have a habit that requires to be broken and that is to pick winners one week ahead of schedule. In recent outings, this skill has seen Larrazabel, Noren, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson all finish on the podium if not win. Looking backward to look forward, I’ve re-picked last week’s Jeev Milkha Singh (despite a poor showing at Gleneagles) (at 143/1 with BetDaq) to come out of his dip in form and who should be one to “watch” this week.
Rory McIlroy (9/1 with UniBet & StanJames) has a new and improved temperament that if circumstances fit, means he wins. He’s only tested this theory once – and won the US Open. Has spent a lot of time breaking up, getting back together and breaking up with yet again on-off girlfriend and Absinthe drinking partner, Holly Sweeney. Fresh from a few days sleeping at JFK airport (thanks Irene), he now has tennis starlet Caroline Wozniaki in tow. Despite a minor set-back with a wrist injury suffered at the US PGA, Rory is back in the focused zone and will be expected to contend in the tournament that he squandered in his first full year on Tour in 2008 and as such will have something to prove.
Ones to win:
Fondue and raclette loving Matteo Mannesaro (18/1 with BoyleSports and Victor Chandler) will be getting into the Swiss swing of things this week and hoping for a competitive form after school holidays meant he took time off to relax by playing in the park, getting muddy knees playing from hours of “One-and-in” and playing soldiers in the local woods late into the evening until his folks called him in for milk and cookies. Currently 20th in the Race to Dubai with only 14 starts, the talented Azzurri has had 4 top 10’s in 2011 and a bright future beyond school. While length has no advantage here, his scrambling ability alone make him a contender so expect low scores from him this week to threaten lifting the muesli filled trophy come Sunday.
Bringing this weeks’ youth inspired line-up to a close, it is Martin Kaymer (20/1 with Coral and Bet365) exciting me this week after a quiet summer by his standards. We once again saw fire in the belly in France in July and fired up by the start of a new Ryder Cup year, and by a number of weeks off – Kaymer will be one who’s outstanding short game and Germanic attention to detail will stand him in good stead to be somewhere deep in the thick of it at the business end of the weekend.