The European Tour returns to one of its most picturesque backdrops this week, when Richie Ramsay defends his title in the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland.
With the Alps dominating the vista from the fairways in Crans Montana, Ramsay will be hoping to be King of the Mountains once again, following his impressive four stroke triumph 12 months ago.
The Scot carded a bogey free final round of 66 to complete a comfortable second European Tour victory, with Marcus Fraser, Fredrik Andersson Hed, Romain Wattel and Danny Willett all trailing in his wake.
After a top ten finish on home soil in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles a fortnight ago, Ramsay is looking forward to returning to one of his favourite venues.
“It is always a place I love going to because the views are just incredible,” he said. “I’ve got great vibes from last year and the course really does suit me. It suits guys who can shape the ball, and good shot makers who are steady around the greens.
“You have to work with the altitude to work out how far the ball is going. At times it can be tricky as if it is cold it doesn’t fly, but if it is warm it flies for miles, and that is something I did well last year.”
The former US Amateur champion, who won his first European Tour title in the South African Open Championship in the 2010 season, overcame the pressure of playing the final round alongside fellow Aberdonian Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion, to claim the trophy last year.
“Belief was the difference,” he said. “It was a big deal for me playing with Paul in the last group, someone from your home city, who you watched win The Open. I played great on the front nine and had total belief. I went out and imagined I was playing with my friends and that is something I have got to take when I’m going down the stretch on a Sunday. I did it in South Africa and hopefully I can do it again soon.
“I think my game is almost in a better place than it was last year. A few more putts and a little bit more belief, and I don’t think there is any reason I can’t repeat it.”
Another player with fond memories of Crans-sur-Sierre is Spaniard Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who this week marks his 25th consecutive Omega European Masters.
The 49 year old won the title in 2010 and has ten top ten finishes in total at this venue. He is joined in the field by 2011 champion Thomas Björn of Denmark and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who is playing in the tournament for the first time since 2000.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Grégory Bourdy will return to action with confidence sky-high after consecutive birdies in the three finishing holes helped him claim last week’s ISPS Handa Wales Open in thrilling fashion.