Lee Westwood captured his third European Tour victory from as many starts last year when he shot four rounds in the sixties to land the Canon European Masters at spectacular Crans-sure-Sierre in Switzerland. One year on, Westwood is back defending his title, and offering www.europeantour.com his personal views on the course.
He commented: “Obviously the first thing which grabs you is the fantastic scenery. It really is a beautiful spot. You notice it all the way round when playing the course, which is nice.
“Over the years the course has changed quite a lot. It’s been toughened up, which is probably good considering the improvements in standard on the European Tour. This year the course is in excellent condition – I’d say better than 12 months ago when I manage to hold off Thomas Björn. The greens are softer for a start.
“Overall I think the course will be more mentally draining than it used to be. In the past you just rolled up and went for everything and tried to make 30 birdies or whatever. You can’t be as cavalier nowadays.
“Another aspect of Crans-sur-Sierre is the altitude. The town is over 1500 metres high and in that rarified atmosphere the ball flies further, so I use the metres chart instead of yards for this week. It works out about right.
“The start is very important. I rate the third – a par three of 192 yards – and the fourth – a 506 yard down hill par four – as two of the most difficult to negotiate. With the 543 yard first being a potential birdie hole, it’s good to get under par there and try to par the next three. With the greens being like upturned saucers, it’s easy to drop shots there so I like to get them out of the way.
I reckon that the fifth, sixth and seventh are birdie opportunities so a lot depends on how you start.
“I am very fond of the par five 14th. It’s 598 yards long and a really good drive down the left hand side of the fairway opens up the green for an accurate second shot. You can reach it in two, but you have to be long and precise.
“Overall it’s a lovely place to play golf…but, then, who doesn’t enjoy playing over a course where they have already won such a prestigious title?”