Golf: Four fancies to follow at the European Masters

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EUROPEAN Tour golf specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) bagged a 66/1 winner and 175/1 place last week. Here’s who he’s backing in the European Masters.

European Masters | 7th-11th September 2017 | Sky Sports

It would be fair to say the Czech Masters went very well last week so we know what’ll probably happen this week – a complete blowout and missed cuts galore. But you never know, I’ll give it another go and see what happens come Sunday…

This week it’s a short hop across to Switzerland and one of the best golfing locations in the world. The Omega European Masters is up in Alps – literally on the side of a mountain – and at an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet, it provides some of the best scenery going.

If you’re going to tune into one tournament all year, this is the one to watch.

Course background and trends

The course is Crans-sur-Sierre and unsurprisingly its got plenty of undulations and slopes to contend with. The fairways are tree-lined and the greens are small, so that indicates accuracy and hitting the greens to be the winning combination.

The stats over the last number of years don’t completely correlate to those presumptions though. Greens in Regulation has been an important stat but accuracy off the tee hasn’t been overly required, instead being able to scramble well when getting off line has been crucial.

By modern standards it’s quite a short course at under 7,000 yards and plays even shorter given the altitude. Perhaps with that taken into account it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see those with previous course form tending to do well, seeing as it’s a different challenge than most other weeks.

Last year’s winner Alex Noren also won here in 2009 and has been marked up as favourite to make it a hat trick. 2015 winner Danny Willett picked up top-fives in both 2012 and 2014 whilst 2013 winner Thomas Bjorn was picking up his second win. The 2014 winner came as a complete surprise when David Lipsky won out of the blue but course form is something to take into account.

Richie Ramsey (35/1 Betfred)

The first pick is 2012 winner Richie Ramsey. Since that win he’s chalked up top-10s in both 2014 and 2015 up the mountain, making 35/1 look good straight off the bat.

The Scot also comes into this week with some good form in the bank. He hasn’t played for a few weeks but last time out at the European Open he finished in eight and was also runner-up at the Irish Open back in July.

He can be a bit hit-and-miss but he has some good GIR and scrambling numbers in the recent past so if he can bring it all together he has every chance of another good week.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera (80/1 Ladbrokes)

My other main fancy is an 80/1 shot who at the age of 33 hasn’t yet managed a win on Tour but is getting close, in the form of Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

The Frenchman has racked up four top-10s this season so far including a ninth last week that sees him sitting a respectable 36th in the Race to Dubai.

He’s also got good form up in the Alps with a 14th and 19th way back in 2008 and 2009 plus 12th place last year. His only other appearance resulted in a retirement so overall that’s a good record.

For the season Mike – who has a great French name – ranks 35th in GIR and third in scrambling ,so is well suited to the course and well worth looking at at a big price.

Jamie Donaldson (55/1 Betfred)

I had four others in consideration for a final spot but I couldn’t manage to narrow it down to one so it’s a four man team again this week. The first of those is Jamie Donaldson who’s priced at 55/1.

The man from Pontypridd has been around for quite a while now and makes his 13th appearance at Crans so obviously likes the place. He’s had three top-10s in his last five visits, so a decent record and has some fairly good form coming into this week.

Last week he was 25th in Prague and the outing before that 16th at the European Open. An added bonus comes in the form of ranking 18th in GIR and 10th in scrambling for the season.

Jamie is down in 117th in the Race to Dubai and needs a good performance very soon to keep him full card for next season and I’m sure he’s had his eye on this one for a while to try and achieve that.

Tom Lewis (100/1 Stan James)

Tom Lewis gets the nod for the last place. I’d struck him off the mini shortlist initially but after sleeping on it, he’s back in.

He’s opened at 100/1 in places but I can’t see it lasting very long at all but the 80s that is widely available is a good price. The youngster is another who has quietly playing well and picking up good results under radar for most of the year.

His best finish came last week with third at the Czech Masters whilst ranking sixth in GIR and 23rd in scrambling. A repeat of those figures should see him go well again.

Lewis has also got a slight bit of course form which is nice – in three visits he’s missed the cut twice but was 15th in the other. Hopefully he can go better than that at the very least and give us a run for our money.

Best Bets

European Masters – Richie Ramsay (35/1 each way Betfred)

European Masters – Jamie Donaldson (55/1 each way Betfred)

European Masters – Mike Lorenzo-Vera (80/1 each way Ladbrokes)

European Masters – Tom Lewis (100/1 each way Stan James)

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