Our man on the ground at the Credit Suisse Challenge brings you all the action from the behind the scenes at Golf Sempachersee...
Perrino looking on the bright side with wife
Andrea Perrino has been a happy man this week, not only because he was vying for the Credit Suisse Challenge title for the opening three days, but also because he did so with his wife on the bag.
He accredited much of his success to his dearly beloved as he climbed to the top of the leaderboard and shared the lead heading into the final day and, indeed, they have had some previous success in each other's company on the golf course - Perrino won the Qualifying School Second Stage at La Manga last year with his wife on the bag.
"We already won last year in La Manga and it's a great feeling to have her on the bag as always," he said. "She always talks about it when she walks around with me and it's nice to remember it because it was the only win that I got in 2011."
Good omens for the 28 year old, perhaps?
Open minds at Golf Sempachersee
There are three players in the field at the Credit Suisse Challenge who look more than a little distracted and more than a little excited.
They are Morten Orum Madsen, Scott Pinckney and Steven Tiley, who have all qualified for next week’s Open Championship through local qualifying stages.
For Madsen, it will be his first ever Major experience and continues his incredible Rookie year on the Challenge Tour, which began with a second place finish in his first tournament of the season at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.
He has since gone on to earn another top ten and two more top 20 finishes to move to 13th in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
Pinckney, meanwhile, is making his professional debut at an Open Championship, although he did qualify for the 2011 US Open Championship as an amateur before watching his close friend Rory McIlroy steam to an eight shot victory at Congressional.
Tiley has already played two Open Championships and even made the cut in the 2010 tournament at St Andrew’s.
Houston in a place called vertigo
Houston’s good form at the Credit Suisse Challenge has been even more admirable considering the fact that the Welshman was just last Sunday diagnosed with vertigo.
Houston said after his second round that he often gets queasy just standing up or lying down and admitted he almost couldn’t bring himself to get up from his bed on the opening morning of the tournament.
Luckily for the 41 year old, he pulled through and admitted that he even felt more relaxed than usual this week because of the illness.
Beware the injured golfer, they say. This week it’s a case of beware the dizzy golfer!
Sempach packed with local delights
There have been comments and tweets aplenty about the wonderful splendour of the area in which this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge is taking place, where there are spectacular views of the Alps as well as Lake Sempach.
It is a quaint and peaceful area steeped in Swiss tradition and this is evident in the local houses, farms, restaurants and old style hotels.
The nearby Hotel-Restaurant zum Roten Löwen, or the ‘Red Lion’ in English, epitomises the patriotic charm of the Sempach area, with each year’s manager shown on the wall on the way in wearing traditional Swiss attire (as pictured above).
The food is also something to behold, with Wienerschnitzel and locally-caught Perch amongst the local delicacies. Eating with the Swiss, however, you won’t get away without being forced to try the ‘Rösti’ – considered the national dish.
It consists of grated potatoes which is then fried in oil and can be mixed with egg, bacon, herbs or frankly whatever the local chef wishes. And yes, it is rather delicious!
Grant hoping for magic on the way to the top
Ahead of this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge, Stephen Grant has revealed that he will be taking to some rather unorthodox methods to help improve the mental side of his game, saying he is hoping to receive hypnotherapy from famous Irish magician Keith Barry.
The former professional footballer from Ireland is hoping to produce a big performance in Switzerland this week, having only made one cut this season on the Challenge Tour, as he attempts to make it as a touring professional golfer.
After taking up the game aged 25 following a football career during which he played Championship football for Stockport County, Grant admits that there are elements to his new chosen sport that are alien to him and he is willing to go to whatever lengths he can to adjust.
“The thing is, I probably shouldn’t be doing well in this game because I started so late,” said the 35 year old ahead of his fourth Challenge Tour appearance of the year. “It’s a big challenge but sometimes I need to go easier on myself. These players are really good so I'm doing well considering. Sometimes I have to relax and let it happen.
“I'm actually hoping to do some work with Keith Barry, get him to hypnotise me. Someone’s been speaking to him for me to do something soon. Hopefully that can get me a little more focussed and less on edge. It’s a case of not letting one mistake affect the next five holes.
“Out here, the players are brilliant at letting stuff go. I've come from soccer where managers are trying to get you riled up at half time. I played in the Stadium of Light against Sunderland in front of over 40,000 people and there are no nerves at all, the game is flowing so there’s no time to think. That was really easy.
“Out here there may be no one watching but the stress of situations and controlling your emotions is tough. The best players are the ones that can ride their emotions, like Graeme McDowell.”
Aces in the pack at Golf Sempachersee
Aside from the €160,000 prize fund which is on offer at the stunning Golf Sempachersee this week, there are also a couple of not-so-insignificant gifts for anyone who bring out their A game on two of the par three holes.
At the 208 yard eighth hole, anyone who holes in one will be given a brand new BMW Z4 car, while at the 188 yard 16th hole an ace will be rewarded with a shiny new Omega watch.
With this in mind, there is sure to be a little more practice done on the long irons this week!
A guide to Sempach
Sempach, which is a part of the Swiss canton (state) of Lucerne, is the area which plays host to this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge and what a beautiful place it is. Here are a few small facts about the area for any virtual explorers out there:
• It is home to the site of the famous battle of Sempach, which took place on 9 July 1386. The Swiss defeated the Austrians, whose leader, Duke Leopold, lost his life. The legendary deed of Arnold of Winkelried is associated with this victory. The spot is now marked by an ancient and picturesque Battle Chapel (restored in 1886) and by a modern monument to Winkelried.
• Agriculture is the most significant source of income in the Lucerne canton, but industry is also developed. The most important agricultural products are crops, fruit and cattle breeding.
• Tourism is also important in the area, as the canton of Lucerne is a gateway to holiday resorts in the nearby Alps, and much of the transit traffic between Germany and Italy crosses the region.
• The local tongue is German.
• The most prominent local football team is FC Luzerne, the Swiss Super League side which is currently managed by Swiss legend Murat Yakin. He was often linked with some of Europe’s top clubs during the late 90s.
• Former players for FC Luzerne include David Fairclough, who made his name with Liverpool in the 70s and 80s, and current Swiss manager Ottmar Hitzfeld.