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Monday, 27 August 2012
 Thomas Bjorn   (Getty Images)
Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)
Thomas Björn is looking forward to returning to the place where he regained the belief that he can stand up to the best players in the world as he defends his Omega European Masters title after a stunning victory at Crans-sur-Sierre last year.

The Dane stormed to a second victory on the trot this time last year when he followed up his Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles triumph with an incredible win at Crans Montana, where his nine under par final round of 62 left him four shots clear of Martin Kaymer.

Björn admits that it was the closest thing he’s had to a perfect day and cannot wait to return to one of the most famous venues on The European Tour schedule.

“It was some Sunday last year, it was just amazing,” said the 41 year old. “To shoot 62 on the last day was just remarkable. Coming off a win at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, to go into the final day with that leaderboard – with Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer all up there – and then to go on and win was just special.

“It’s up there with my win in Dubai in 2001, where I played the last round with Tiger Woods. The finish was unbelievable in Crans and you almost feel like you’re losing your chance and then all of a sudden you go bang, bang, bang – birdie, birdie, birdie.

“It so often goes the other way when you get too aggressive. It was close to a perfect day, it was one of those days where you just sit back afterwards and it’s just an amazing feeling. Even though I won the previous week I still felt I needed that win to prove something and I went and did it.

“I didn’t have the belief on the golf course and I needed that last year, I needed to trust and believe that when it gets tough, I can stand up and hit the golf shots.”

Nestled atop the Swiss Alps, Crans-sur-Sierre is one of the most picturesque venues The European tour visits in its busy Race to Dubai Schedule and the tournament itself - which first took place in 1923 before becoming a European Tour-sanctioned event in 1972 – has a list of former winners to match the stunning surroundings.

Seve Ballesteros (1977, 1978 and 1989), Luke Donald (2004), Sir Nick Faldo (1983), José María Olazábal (1986) and Lee Westwood (1999) are amongst the big names to have claimed victory there and Björn believes it is a place which players look forward to returning to every year.

“It’s a great place in the players’ hearts,” he said. “It comes at a great time where it’s been a long season and you go to Switzerland and there’s good food and good fun and you maybe don’t work as hard as you do normally.

“It’s still growing as a tournament and you have all the memories of Seve and so many other great wins and it just sits well at the venue. It’s a great place.”

Paul Lawrie will be hoping to repeat the feat of his Danish counter-part when he arrives at the Omega European Masters in search of a second successive victory following his impressive win at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last week.

He joins a strong field which includes 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke, Captain of the European Team for The 2012 Ryder Cup Olazábal and in-form Englishman David Lynn, who finished second to McIlroy in the US PGA Championship earlier this month.

Also in the field is one of golf’s most in-form players, Kristoffer Broberg, who is eligible to play after he became the fastest player in Challenge Tour history to earn three victories and earn instant promotion to The European Tour last week.

The Swede won three times in his last four appearances in his Rookie season on the Challenge Tour, having made just one appearance prior to that and played his last four tournaments in a staggering cumulative score of 74 under par.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-16
T2FRASER, MarcusAUS18-12
T2WATTEL, RomainFRA18-12
T2ANDERSSON HED, FredrikSWE18-12
T2WILLETT, DannyENG18-12
T6WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-11
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