Dane Thomas Björn (pictured by Getty Images) will be hoping to enhance his “special relationship” with the Omega European Masters this week when he makes his 14th visit to the stunning Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
The two-time winner and defending champion boasts an enviable record in the €2.3million tournament, which is celebrating its 80th edition this year.
His 2014 Ryder Cup team-mate Jamie Donaldson, who finished in a tie for third place behind Björn in 2011, will go in search of successive victories feeling refreshed thanks to a week off after his victory at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
The Welshman, who is fourth in The Race to Dubai, missed last week’s 71° OPEN D’ITALIA Presented by DAMIANI – won by South Africa’s Hennie Otto – to recuperate following his third European Tour triumph.
Donaldson is raring to go on his 11th trip to the Omega European Masters, which was first played in 1923 and has been held in Crans Montana since 1939.
“I’ve always had a special relationship with this tournament. It comes at a time of the year when you need something a bit different to give you a little boost, because it’s such a tough schedule over the summer months. It can be hard work, but it never feels like hard work coming here. This place never fails to amaze and excite you, no matter how many times you visit. It’s just such a great place and a great tournament.
“The win in 2011 was extremely special, because of the way I played on the last day. It was a high-class leaderboard, Rory was pushing me all the way so to pull away and win quite comfortably was a real highlight. Last year I didn’t play quite as well on the last day, and Craig had a decent putt on the last to win the tournament, so I rode my luck a little but I managed to get the win. To win any event twice is special, but to win this event twice makes it that little bit more special.”
“I love this course and this tournament. I didn’t play that well for the first few years, because it’s a course you need to get to know well. But last year I managed to play well and came close to winning, so that obviously gives me confidence this week. The changes have definitely improved the course, and hopefully I can give another good performance.
“It’s so beautiful here. It’s lovely to breathe this fresh mountain air, and the views are spectacular. It’s a tricky course, especially the greens, but I think it now suits me. Because of the course changes and the fact that it’s now a par 70, the winning score will probably be around five or six shots higher than in previous years. So if you get to around 15 under, I think you’ll have a great chance of winning this week.”
“The Czech Masters was a great week for me on many levels: it was fantastic to confirm my place in The Ryder Cup team, and also a great win to add to my resumé. I’ve had a week at home with my feet up to recharge the batteries, so I’m raring to go again.
“It’s great to be back in Crans as always, and I’m really excited about the week. I love coming back, you never get tired of the scenery. It’s one of the first European Tour events I played as sponsor’s invitation back in 2001, so it definitely holds some special memories for me. And I’ve got a pretty decent record here, which always helps.”