European Masters Betting Tips: Six picks for Switzerland
This week the DP World Tour arrives at one of its most familiar and undoubtedly the most spectacular stop on the schedule, the Omega European Masters at Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre, a course situated high in the Swiss Alps with stunning views at every turn.
It’s also one of the oldest events on the schedule, with a variation of this tournament played here since 1939 and has seen many of the game’s greats claim victory here, from Seve Ballesteros being a three-time winner, picking up the title in 1977, 1978 and 1989, to Ernie Els’ victory in 2003.
This list of quality of winners continues to this day, with tour stalwarts such as Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn winning three of four events between them in the early noughties and over more recent years, we have seen victories for the likes of Danny Willett in 2015, Alex Noren in 2016 and Matthew Fitzpatrick claiming back-to-back titles in 2017/18.
Already well on his way to establishing himself amongst some of those names, with three DP World Tour titles at the tender age of 21, Rasmus Hojgaard picked up the victory last year on his debut in the event, as he beat Bernd Wiesberger by 1 shot in a dramatic final round, an event which returned following cancellation in the covid affected 2020 season.
This week we see a strong DP World Tour field, where players will be hoping to lift the trophy at such an iconic venue and add their name to this trophy full of illustrious names.
European Masters Betting Tips
- Romain Langasque 35/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1.5 pts ew
- Antoine Rozner 40/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1.25 pts ew
- Ewen Ferguson 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Marcus Kinhult 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Gavin Green 55/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Tom Lewis 100/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
Designed by Harry Nicholson in 1928, with Seve Ballesteros brought in to renovate the course in the 1990s, GC Crans-sur-Sierre is a par 70, measuring 6824 yards. Though will play a good 350+ yards shorter due to being at altitude.
It’s a course that starts very difficult, with two 500+ yard par 4s in the opening four holes but from there on in there are an abundance of scoring opportunities. From the drivable par 4 7th hole, a hole that provides one of the most breathtaking views around this memorable venue, to the two consecutive, scorable par 5s on the back 9 on holes 14 & 15, with the more challenging 633 yard 9th hole making up the three par 5s around the course.
That being said, these scoring opportunities aren’t gifted to you. Crans has danger at every turn and you’ll need to be sharp in every aspect of your game.
The fairways, whilst not as narrow as the heavily tree-lined framing makes them look, are uneven and have plenty of tight doglegs, meaning if you aren’t finding the right parts of them, you’ll be left with a difficult shot into these relatively small greens, with angles into them potentially blocked out by trees.
The greens themselves then offer their own difficulties, undulating and with runoff areas for protection around most. If your ball-striking is causing you to miss these surfaces, you better bring a good scrambling game to a course which is as tough to get up and down around than many on tour.
Whilst many of the holes seem innocuous in length they shouldn’t be underestimated. This no more on show than the final hole, which always helps to provide a dramatic, tense conclusion to the event. A 402 yard par 4 playing to a fairway that slopes severely left to right; be slightly off on accuracy and you’ll find the huge bunker or worse, facing an unenviable shot into a green that is protected by a stream that surrounds it.
It’s a course which just offers fabulous variety, there are holes you can overpower and attack but many you have to play more tactically. This is the reason we rarely see scoring get out of hand here, despite the short length of the course, with no winning score better than -17 in the last six years and also the reason we see all types contend, bomber or more accuracy dependent, you all have a chance at Crans.
There has been a feature of strong driving performances being a necessity around Crans in recent years. In addition to this it’s imperative you scramble well, not just for par saves when rolling off some of these greens but with the amount of holes in which you can reach or at least get up to under regulation, a good scrambling game will lead to many birdies. Whilst with some potentially wet weather on the way, ability to attack these pins with strong approach play will also be key.
This need for a strong tee-to-green game has been well on show in recent years.
Rasmus Hojgaard ranked 2nd off-the-tee, 5th in approach and 9th in scrambling when winning last year, with runner-up Wiesberger also excelling off-the-tee and in scrambling, ranking 8th and 1st respectively.
The previous renewal in 2019 was won in a similar fashion, as Soderberg combined a strong driving performance, ranking 10th, with some quality scrambling, ranking 5th. Though amongst the four players he beat in the playoff there, we find Andres Romero relying on the short-game, as did Kalle Samooja. Whilst Rory McIlroy produced a typically superb driving performance and Lorenzo Gagli producing quality ball-striking.
That strong driving was on show again in 2018, as Matt Fitzpatrick ranked 1st off-the-tee and Lucas Bjerregaard, who he beat in a playoff, ranked 3rd. Both then combined with a strong scrambling performance, Fitzpatrick ranking 5th and Bjerregaard 1st, as well as some solid approach play, with both ranking in the top 15.
No strokes-gained data from 2017 and earlier but we again see that necessity for strong scrambling on show from both Fitzpatrick in 2017, who ranked 3rd when winning and Alex Noren in 2016, who ranked 1st when confining Scott Hend to the first of his two consecutive runner-up finishes. Whilst each player who contended at the very top in those years showed quality off-the-tee, either accurate or bombing, whilst hitting plenty of greens.
Key Stats: SG: OTT, SG: Approach, Scrambling
Dubai Desert Classic @ Emirates GC
Despite being more open and possessing larger greens than here at Crans, Emirates GC still has some tight driving lines, with greens that repel balls if your approach play is off, leading to the need for some strong scrambling skills and an abundance of strong drivers of the ball going well there. With this it’s developed serious form-ties with this event.
Danny Willett is a past champion at both, as are Thomas Bjorn, Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez if we go back a little further. In addition to this Alex Noren has finished runner-up there, Matt Fitzpatrick top 5, with David Lipsky and Rasmus Hojgaard meaning 9 of the last 10 winners at Crans have recorded a top 10 at worst, at Emirates GC.
BMW PGA Championship @ Wentworth Club
Wentworth is a much easier comparison to make, a course played through heavily tree-lined corridors, with elevation changes, doglegging fairways and a need to position your ball correctly off-the-tee.
In the last five years we’ve seen both Danny Willett and Alex Noren complete the Crans/Wentworth double. Whilst Matt Fitzpatrick has two top 10s at Wentworth and Richie Ramsay, the 2012 European Masters champion has also finished top 10, with two of the runners-up to him that year, Romain Wattel and Marcus Fraser both finishing 4th at Wentworth. Lucas Bjerregaard and Graeme Storm provide further evidence, as they have both finished runner up here, whilst possessing respective 3rd and 6th place finishes in the BMW PGA.
Hong Kong Open @ Hong Kong GC (Fanling)
Hong Kong GC is another course that is very much in the same traditionally tree-lined mould of Crans. With form-ties plentiful.
2010 OEM winner, Miguel Angel Jimenez is a four-time winner in Hong Kong, whilst Scott Hend, who recorded two consecutive 2nd place finishes at Crans in 2016/17 is also a former champion.
Fitzpatrick, Willett, Lipsky and Ramsay have all recorded top 10s there, with Lucas Bjerregaard and Marcus Fraser once again tying form in, both possessing top 3s in Hong Kong.
Kenya Open @ Karen CC & Muthaiga GC
Both of the alternating courses used in the Kenya Open can provide clues as both are traditional shorter, tree-lined courses, giving that similar sense of claustrophobia that you get with Crans which cons you into thinking the fairways are tighter than they actually are.
Sebastian Soderberg won the event at Karen CC when on the Challenge Tour, whilst Kalle Samooja, 2nd to Soderberg here in 2019 has a top 10. At Muthaiga we find Soderberg again with a 6th place finish, Samooja too with a 3rd place finish, whilst another of those runners-up in 2019, Lorenzo Gagli, is a past champion at Muthaiga. Ashun Wu adds more strength to this link, possessing two top 10s here at Crans and won at Muthaiga this year.
Austrian Open @ Diamond CC
Diamond CC, host of the Austrian Open is more exposed in places than Crans though does have some tighter, tree-lined holes and puts a strong emphasis on the need for a good tee-to-green game.
Bernd Wiesberger and Ashun Wu are past champions there whilst possessing those strong records here at Crans. Whilst Fitzpatrick, Willet and Noren appear again, each possessing a 3rd place finish in Austria. Further form ties can be found from familiar names like Lucas Bjerregaard and Romain Wattel as well as newer names, such as Lee Slattery and Marcus Armitage, who possess top 10s at both venues.
Euram Bank Open @ Adamstal GC
Finally I’ll finish with the Euram Bank Open at Adamstal. This event has been on the Challenge Tour since 2018, sharing co-hosting duties with the DPWT in 2020. It should provide a clear correlation as a quirky tree-lined course in the Austrian Alps, where players who have played there will have experience of having to play at altitude, much like they’ll experience this week.
Lorenzo Gagli has a top 10 there, whilst Sean Crocker, 4th here last year, has finished 3rd at Adamstal. It’s a course where I expect stronger form-ties to develop as time goes on.
Weather can be volatile here and there is the potential for that this week, with thunderstorms predicted from Friday through to Sunday after a dry day on Thursday. This will not just mean a soft course but potentially plenty of stoppages and if that transpires, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a similar situation occurring to last week, where the Czech Masters was cut to 54-holes.
Hopefully the worst of that weather doesn’t arrive and we get to watch a full, uninterrupted week of golf at this superb venue.
This week we have the best field the DP World Tour has seen since the Scottish Open over a month ago. Ryan Fox is the top ranked player at #48 in the world and is joined by Adrian Meronk, Adri Arnaus and Nicolai Hojgaard from inside the top 100.
Other notable names include last year’s champion, Rasmus Hojgaard, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and Matt Wallace will tee it up for the first time since the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour, where he narrowly missed out on getting into the FedEx Cup playoff events.
Ryan Fox heads the market at 18/1, followed by Adrian Meronk at 20s and reigning champion Rasmus Hojgaard at 28s. This event always produces one of the longest shortlists of the season, with so many different types of players who can go well, so each of these at the top of the betting are respected.
However I’m going to start this week a little further down, with one of the most consistent players on the DP World Tour this season, Romain Langasque.
We haven’t seen Langasque since the Hero Open four weeks ago, where he finished 14th. That was the latest example of that quality, consistent form that the Frenchman has shown this year. Where he’s missed just 4 cuts in 17, making his last 8 on the bounce and produced 9 top 20s, from which he’s managed to find 5 top 10 finishes. His best a 5th in the BMW International Open four starts ago.
Langasque’s form is a result of all-round quality, shown by him ranking 8th on tour this season tee-to-green, displaying quality in each area, though has excelled in approach, where he ranks 9th for the season and was in good form in this respect last time out in Scotland.
In addition to this, Langasque is one of the best scramblers on tour, ranking 5th and compliments this excellent tee-to-green game with a solid putter, ranking 86th.
This quality all-round game helped him on his way to a 7th place finish here on his first start in the event as a pro back in 2016. Though he’s recorded 2 missed cuts and a 48th place finish here since, his game wasn’t in as good condition as it is now, and we can find suitability in his game for this test in a strong record at Karen Country Club in he Kenya Open, where he’s recorded 2nd, 5th and 6th place finishes.
Langasque is arguably the player playing the best golf on tour this season, that has yet to pick up a victory. With one of the best tee-to-green games on tour and proof that he can perform here in the past, this can be the week he finally makes that 2022 breakthrough.
We had Antoine Rozner last week and whilst he never really got into contention at the business end of the event, in his 13th place finish he once again showed the excellent shape his game was in, as he led the field both in approach and tee-to-green, which helped him record his third top 15 in six starts. Coming into an event where he produced a strong 13th place finish on debut last year, he can take another step in the right direction this week.
For all Rozner produced a high-class T2G performance last week, he ranked last on the greens, which is obviously a concern as it continues a poor recent run of form in that area, though what I would say is that the putter has never really featured highly here in terms of determining the winner. So if able to reproduce the type of T2G performance he showed last week, he wouldn’t need to make massive gains on the greens to contend.
The strong ball-striking that he showed last week continued a recent theme for Rozner, as he’s now gained strokes in approach in seven straight events and in five of his last seven off-the-tee.
It was this type of quality that helped him to that 13th place finish here last year, as Rozner ranked 1st in the field tee-to-green, owing to particular quality off-the-tee, where he ranked 3rd and in approach, ranking 7th.
Rozner hasn’t played a bunch of times at the correlating courses mentioned but has some solid form across them, the best of which is a 9th place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic, which provides further confidence and as a player who has taken to the DPWT pretty quickly, picking up titles in each of his first two seasons, we know he has got what it takes to get the job done if he gets in the mix this week.
A two-time winner on tour this season, who won his last start and is hitting the ball as well as anyone on the DPWT, I was surprised Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson was this price this week. Add into this the fact he has some strong correlating form which should point to his suitability for this week’s test and he quickly became a must bet for me.
Not only did he win last time out but the manner in which he did, entering the final round in the lead and maintaining that advantage throughout, never really looking like giving it up, showed a player who has grown so much since he let slip the Kenya Open earlier this year.
Ferguson’s game is all about the ball-striking, where he ranks 18th in approach and is a strong, accurate driver, ranking 28th off-the-tee. Very much fitting that mould of many who have performed well at Crans.
This alone would leave me to believe he’s the type to go well here but he has some attractive correlating form that makes up for the fact he hasn’t played this course before. He has the experience at altitude, having twice finished runner-up in the Euram Bank Open and that ultimately disappointing result in Kenya earlier this year can still be taken as a positive, as he was excellent for three rounds and really should’ve won. Even his win last time out should work, as Galgorm Castle is a similarly tight, tree-lined course.
Ferguson took a week off to celebrate that second victory of the year. Arriving here no doubt full of confidence and at a course which looks ideally suited to his game, he can turn what has been a memorable year so far into something truly spectacular.
Marcus Kinhult first shot into everyone’s consciousness at this very event seven years ago in 2015 as a 19-year-old amateur. Where he was well in contention at halfway in 4th position and despite falling away in the 3rd round, rallied in the final round to produce an incredibly impressive 10th place finish for someone at the time, was one of the best amateur golfers in the world.
Fast-forward seven years and just one DPWT title may feel a little underwhelming for someone who showed such talent but there’s been positive signs of late that he’s close to winning at this level again, all brought on by a victory back home on the Nordic Golf League. Coming back to a venue which will no doubt have a huge place in his heart, and one in which he’s since gone well at following that 2015 visit, he can contend this week.
Kinhult’s recent form took a jump in a big way three starts ago at the Cazoo Classic, where he finished 3rd. He followed that with a missed cut in Northern Ireland that doesn’t quite tell the whole story, as he narrowly missed a 3rd round cut there, which under normal circumstances he wouldn’t have faced and would’ve played the final round. Whilst he finished 23rd last week in the Czech Masters.
He’s an accurate driver who excels with the short-game, shown by a ranking of 8th in scrambling on tour this season. This has all been on show over recent starts and whilst his irons weren’t quite up to scratch last week, when he was 3rd in the Cazoo Classic three starts ago he produced his best ever approach performance, so I’m confident that area of his game has little to be concerned about.
This attractive skillset for this test not only enable him to finish 10th on that debut effort, but since then he’s played three further times, never missed a cut and produced another good finish of 12th in 2019. In addition to this he finished 8th in the Kenya Open at Muthaiga earlier this year and has a top 10 at Wentworth.
With Marcus’ health now in a better place after the discovery that he had epilepsy last year, he can kickstart his promising career at still just 26 years of age, starting this week in Crans.
Yes, we’re going there again. After looking to have the title in his hands last week in the Czech Masters, a disastrous tee-shot into the water on the 14th hole put Green on the back foot, ultimately costing him the title. Though I was impressed by the way he composed himself following that error, particularly on the last hole where an excellent approach setup up a great birdie chance from around 6ft, to tie Max Kieffer and take the event to a playoff. In rather cruel fashion, the putt looked destined for the bottom of the pole but somehow lipped out, causing agony for the man himself and those of us that were on him.
He can bounce back this week, with his game looking in fine shape across the board last week and at a course where he has a good record, having never missed a cut on three visits, recording finishes of 12th, 12th and 32nd.
Though last week finally ended in disappointment, the same can’t be said about Green’s recent form. As that was his second 2nd place finish on the bounce, following solid performances in the Cazoo Classic and Hero Open prior to that. With his driver now starting to look good again, complimenting that strong short-game that sees him rank 8th in putting and 12th in scrambling on tour this season and a recent upturn in approach once again on display last week, he can make up for those two recent disappointments by getting over the line at Crans.
As Matt Wallace showed earlier in the year and many have shown before him, when players who return to Europe having spent a long period stateside, we should largely ignore any poor form they might have shown over there.
Tom Lewis was the latest to provide evidence for this last week, as he finished 13th in the Czech Masters, his first start in Europe since May and following a poor run of form in the US, where he’d missed five of his last nine cuts, recording a finish no better than 32nd.
That performance in the Czech Masters was what we expect to see from Lewis, where he produced a solid ball-striking performance and complimented it with a good week on the greens.
He now comes here to a course where he’s had two top 20s in his last three visits, finishing 15th in 2013 and 20th in 2017 on his most recent visit. In addition to that strong record here, Lewis has some attractive correlating form, finishing 3rd in the Dubai Desert Classic and 10th in Austria.
He did something similar when finishing 10th in the ISPS Handa Championship in April after a poor run of form on the Korn Ferry Tour. He followed that with a couple of underwhelming performances, something I don’t think he’ll repeat this time and if able to find the type of driving performance he produced last week, he will give himself plenty of opportunity to attack around here and improve on that already strong record he has in the event.