Willett amongst Major winners hoping for special return to Crans Montana

Tournament Preview

Danny Willett is hoping to recreate his special 2015 victory when he tees it up in “one of the best stops on Tour” at the Omega European Masters.

The Englishman secured the third of his seven European Tour victories at the picturesque Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre seven years ago, and his subsequent victories include the 2016 Masters Tournament. After an up and down year, he is hoping that his knowledge of the course that sits 1500 metres above sea level in the Swiss Alps – and where he has recorded two further top five finishes – will pay dividends.

The 33 year old is joined in the field by defending champion Sebastian Soderberg and fellow Major winners Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson, who are making welcome returns to the event after eight and nine years respectively.

Soderberg sealed an impressive play-off victory in Crans Montana in 2019 – prevailing over Rory McIlroy, Andres Romero, Lorenzo Gagli and Kalle Samooja in a play-off to claim his first European Tour title – and is aiming to build on his first top 20 finish of the season in last week’s D+D Real Czech Masters.

His fellow Swede and 2016 Open Champion Stenson is also looking to carry over his form from last week, with an impressive putting performance leading to a tied fourth finish and his best result on the European Tour this season. While the man who lifted the Claret Jug two years later is focusing on staying pain free after an injury-plagued season, Molinari hopes that a long-awaited return to the venue where his finished in second place back in 2006 will help to kick start a good run leading into the end of the season.

Player quotes

Danny Willett: “We always say the place makes a week for us, and this is one of the best stops on the European Tour, if not any Tour, up here in Crans. We’ve had some pretty nice results around here. That week (his win in 2015) was very special. My mum and dad were there, the first time they had seen me win for a while. It’s just nice to come back to a place with great memories.

“You’ve got to control distance here. Notoriously small greens, tricky to putt, tricky to chip around. The guys who do well around here control the ball flight well, control the numbers into these small greens at altitude to give themselves birdie putts. It’s a real precise second shot golf course. There are a lot of chances out there so you just need to stay patient.”

Sebastian Soderberg: “It’s wonderful to be back, this course is special.  Playing at this altitude with all of the upslopes and downhills, it’s a different experience and it’s definitely nice to be back.
“I finally feel like I’ve finally played some good golf (this season). I don’t think it was great for me to be leading last week in Czech Republic heading into this event. I haven’t played the weekend since May, so I had to deal with a few more emotions than I have in a while. I was a little rusty there I would say, but as much as you can put yourself in that position and gain from the experience the better. I’m definitely happy feeling those things coming into this week.”

Henrik Stenson: “It’s one of the iconic stops on the European Tour, it’s a beautiful week. Once you have made the climb to get up here it’s super easy – you can walk to golf course, restaurant, hotel, it’s got a great atmosphere. It’s bringing back some great memories from the early days on Tour as well.

“Last week in Czech Republic, putting was probably as good as it’s ever been over four days. I kept it super tidy on the greens and that’s where I made up a lot of ground. Kept it tight in terms of bogies as well. Other than a plugged ball on a fairway trap in the third round, I was more or less bogey free for three days. That’s a statement to how well we managed to play around the golf course on short game and putting.”

Francesco Molinari: “It’s very nice to be back here in Crans – it’s been a while. It’s a spectacular place, challenging and nice course, and a fun event to stay in town and walk around. First and foremost I want to be healthy and playing pain free, be more consistent without having to stop every other week. It would be nice to progress through the weeks and have a strong end of the season so next year can be different from this one.

“It’s a ball striking course, quite tight off the tee. If you go off line with the trees it is hard to score well. With the altitude, distance control is quite important. That’s something that I did well in the past and I need to do well again this week.”


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