The star-studded field at next week’s Omega European Masters will tackle a renovated course after extensive changes were made to Crans-sur-sierre Golf Club.
The 10th, 12th, 13th and 17th holes of the Seve Ballesteros Championship course have all been modified, whilst the natural gallery created on the 13th will enable 3,000 spectators to take in the action at the spectacular par three.
More than 2.7 million Swiss Francs (approximately €2.2 million) has been invested since last year’s tournament to reshape the four holes.
The green on the 13th hole has been lowered by nine meters, and is now protected by water. The 10th fairway has also been lowered, and a strategically placed pond now defends the green.
The 12th hole also features some water with a new lake – measuring 400 square metres – built directly in front of the green, making the approach shot much more difficult. Finally, a stream crosses the 17th fairway, directly in the landing zone for the professionals.
A further 2.5 million Swiss Francs (approximately €2 million) will be spent over the next three years on modifying the first, second, fourth, fifth and ninth holes.
This year’s leading lights include former Open Champions Paul Lawrie, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke; Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez, the 2010 champion who will be making his 25th consecutive appearance in the tournament; in-form South African Richard Sterne, currently fourth in The Race to Dubai; the reigning BMW PGA Champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, who is fifth in The Race to Dubai; South African Branden Grace, a four-time winner in 2012; the 2011 winner Thomas Björn of Denmark; defending champion Richie Ramsay of Scotland; and Chinese sensation Ye Wo-cheng, who became the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event when he qualified for this year’s Volvo China Open.
Other former winners teeing up next week in Crans-Montana include Alexander Noren (2009), Jean-François Luquin (2008), Brett Rumford (2007), Ricardo Gonzalez (2001), Sven Strüver (1998), Matthias Grönberg (1995) and José María Olazábal (1986).
Heading up the Asian contingent are Maybank Malaysian Open champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat, currently leading the Tour Order of Merit; Gaganjeet Bhullar, second behind Aphibarnrat; and Thongchai Jaidee, who defends his title in Wales this week.
Martin Rominger, Ken Benz, Raphaël de Sousa, Fredrik Svanberg and Damian Ulrich, who finished fifth in last week’s Rolex Trophy on the Challenge Tour, represent the host nation, having been granted sponsors’ invitations.