The Omega European Masters is an event held on the European Tour, played at Crans-sur-Sierre in Crans Montana, Switzerland.
This tournament began life as the Swiss Open in 1923, won by Scottish Golfer Alec Ross who would go on to have two further victories in 1925 and 1926. Ross is joined as the most successful golfer in the event by Auguste Boyer, Marcel Dallemagne, Harold Henning and Seve Ballestros who all have three wins.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Omega have been the title sponsors of the European Masters in 2001 and they also back the Dubai Desert Classic which is played at the beginning of the season.
|Crans-sur-Sierre GC||Crans Montana, Switzerland||6,848 Yards||€2,000,000|
Omega European Masters Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin||Course|
|2019||Sebastian Soderberg||-14||Playoff||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
|2018||Matt Fitzpatrick||-17||Playoff||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
|2017||Matt Fitzpatrick||-14||Playoff||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
|2016||Alex Noren||-17||Playoff||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
|2015||Danny Willett||-17||1 Stroke||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
|2014||David Lipsky||-18||Playoff||Crans-sur-Sierre GC|
Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club is arguably the most picturesque golf course used by the European Tour. The course is set high up in the Swiss Alps in Crans Montana which is a world class skiing resort for much of the year. The air is clear and thin so balls fly considerably further than at sea level which cuts down the effective yardage of the par 70 even more than the 6,848 yards on the scorecard.
European Tour players have more than enough power to get stuck into Crans-sur-Sierre which features a couple of drivable par fours. With length no defence, the course (which had the original design considerably reworked by Seve Ballesteros in 1999) uses hazards, run off areas and significant undulations to try to keep scoring down.
Danny Willett is, quite remarkably, the only man to have won this tournament in the last six years without having to resort to a playoff. That shows you just how bunched scoring can be at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Crans-sur-Sierre is a course that plays into the hands of players who are in complete control of their golf ball. Errant tee shots can quite easily find trouble, whether that’s a well-placed bunker, a horrible ditch or one of the big trees which frame the fairways.
The most well-trodden route to success in the European Masters is throttling back off the tee and hitting a high percentage of fairways and greens. However, some players have had success by taking a more aggressive approach. World class drivers who can back their play off the tee with excellent wedge play have a good chance to contend should they putt well enough on the tricky greens they’ll find at Crans-sur-Sierre.
About the Omega European Masters
The Omega European Masters has been around for a very long time, with the first edition having taken place way back in 1923. Initially, the tournament was called the Swiss Open, a title it held until the event was known as the Ebel European Masters Swiss Open in 1982. Canon were the sponsors from 1991 to 2000, with Swiss watchmaker Omega taking over in 2001.
Since 1939, the European Masters has taken place at the Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre in Valais, Switzerland. The competition has been held every year since 1948, apart from the 2020 edition, which was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The tournament is a European Tour event, though it was also part of the Asian Tour from 2009 to 2017.
Back to the Beginning
The first official Swiss Open was won by Scottish golfer Alec Ross. That was the start of Ross’s supremacy in this competition, as he went on to win again in 1925 and 1926. The man from Dornoch in the Highlands of Scotland won several tournaments during his career, including the US Open back in 1907.
Superb Spaniard Wins Two in a Row
The great Spaniard Seve Ballesteros was a three-time winner of this tournament. Seve’s first victory was a three-stroke success over John Schroeder in 1977. The year before, Ballesteros finished runner-up to fellow Spaniard Manuel Pinero.
A year after his first win, Seve retained his crown at the 1978 Swiss Open, this time beating rival Pinero by three shots. The third and final title for Ballesteros came in 1989, as he got the better of Australian Craig Parry by two strokes in Switzerland.
Ballesteros played a big part in Spain’s dominance of this competition from 1976 to 1981, as four of six Swiss Opens were won by Spaniards during that time. Along with Seve’s wins in 1977 and 1978, Pinero prevailed in 1976 and 1981. Also, Jose Maria Olazabal was a winner in 1986.
Spanish Winners of the European Masters
|1986||Jose Maria Olazabal|
|2010||Miguel Angel Jimenez|
Rees Wins Third Crown
Dai Rees became the first player from Wales to win this tournament when he secured a playoff victory in 1956. Two years later, the Glamorgan man was at it again, this time claiming a single-stroke victory over Englishman Syd Scott. Rees then became only the third player to win three Swiss Opens, beating Harold Henning in a playoff in ’65.
Rees was a fine player and won a total of 43 professional tournaments in all. He was second or tied second in the Open Championship on three separate occasions: in 1953, 1954 and 1961, losing out to some of the game’s greats in nine-time major winner Ben Hogan in 1953, five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson in 1954, and seven-time major winner Arnold Palmer in 1961.
Fitzpatrick’s Back-to-back Victories
Two years after securing his first European Tour victory at the British Masters, Sheffield-born Matthew Fitzpatrick won the Omega European Masters in Switzerland in September 2017. Fitzpatrick beat Scott Hend – who also finished runner-up the year before – in a playoff to win his first crown.
Fitzpatrick was desperate to keep hold of his title the following year at Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre. It was another close one, but Fitzpatrick fended off Dane Lucas Bjerregaard in a playoff to add another European Masters trophy to his cabinet. At the time of writing, that remains his last European Tour victory.
Swede Soderberg Squeezes Past Rory & Co.
In a fascinating 2019 tournament in Valais, Swedish man Sebastian Soderberg won a five-man playoff to win on the European Tour for the first time. The Swede won with a birdie on the first extra hole, beating Rory McIlroy, Lorenzo Gagli, Andres Romero and Kalle Samooja. He held his nerve remarkably well in such a high-pressure situation given his lack of experience of winning big tournaments.
Soderberg had been a winner on the Challenge Tour as well as picking up three Nordic Golf League wins since turning professional in 2013. However, his first European Tour victory at the 2019 Omega European Masters in Switzerland will always be one to remember for the Swede.
Few Americans Victorious in European Masters
At the time of writing there have been only two victors in this tournament from the United States: David Lipsky in 2014 and Craig Stadler in 1985. A similar lack of US winners is seen on some European Tour events more than others, but one would generally presume that a tournament with as long a history as this one might have thrown up one or two more over the years.
Part of the reason is that the tournament is generally held in late August/early September when the vast majority of top US players opt to play in/prepare for the PGA Tour events such as the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.