Three members of the 1999 European Ryder Cup team and defending champion Sven Strüver of Germany will be in Switzerland this week to compete in the Canon European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jiménez have entered one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious tournaments after flying back from the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Akron.
Strüver defends the title which began the marathon Ryder Cup points chase last year. He birdied the 18th hole twice in the space of 20 minutes, initially to tie Patrik Sjöland at the top of the leaderboard and then to win the title at the first hole of the sudden-death play-off.
Also in the field are a clutch of European Tour winners in 1999 – Jarrod Moseley, Gerry Norquist, David Howell, Van Phillips, Jean-Francois Remesy, Dean Robertson and David Park.
The new generation of Ryder Cup players will pit their wits and skills against some experienced campaigners who missed out this time around – namely Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Costantino Rocca.
Ballesteros, of course, is still remembered affectionately for the miraculous recovery shot he pulled off in the Canon European Masters in 1993 – a feat which is recorded for posterity in the form of a plaque deep in the undergrowth alongside the 18th fairway.
The Spanish legend and his design team have continued their modifications to the Crans course by re-designing the back nine greens after altering the front nine greens before the 1998 tournament.
Ballesteros has also reshaped the 17th hole, which is now a slight dog leg to the left. The 18th has got a new back tee and the hole has been redesigned with a new green location short and right of its original position. There is also a small lake short in the right hand corner of the green to catch any errant shots.
The 14th has a new back tee and the large dip in the fairway has been filled in to provide a flat landing area. The 11th tee has moved 30 yards to the right and the 17th green is in the location of the old 11th tee.