Fantasy Golf: European Masters preview


A Monday finish followed by a three-man four-hole play-off – it was the Open that refused to finish. One man who will be savouring the events of St Andrews is weekly winner Ron McKinley. His ‘Athenaeum’ team comprised Claret Jug winner Zach Johnson, play-off man Marc Leishman and top-tenners Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia.

We stay in Europe for another prestigious event this week – the European Masters. First hosted in 1923, the tournament has been staged under its current guise since 1992. In that time the likes of Montgomerie, Westwood, Els, Donald, Garcia, Jimenez and Bjorn have tasted victory and a stellar line-up have travelled to Switzerland for the 2015 renewal.

Garcia, Westwood and Reed are amongst those teeing it up next to the Swiss Alps at stunning Crans Montana. A low winning score is always expected here with 19-under the average mark in the last five years. This is hardly surprising given that the par 70 measures less than 7,000 yards and the ball flies around 10 per cent further than normal due to the altitude. Trouble awaits anything wayward though with tall pines lining the undulating fairways.

David Lipsky earned his maiden Tour win last year, beating Graeme Storm in a play-off after they tied on 18-under. They were also tied-third for driving accuracy and both in the top-10 for greens in regulation, proving it’s accuracy over length at Crans-sur-Sierre. Rain is forecast for the first three days in Switzerland with the heaviest expected on Friday afternoon. Here’s my line-up this week.

Sergio Garcia, £4.0m
Spaniard returns to Crans after his latest major miss at St Andrews. He may not have been here for nine years but Garcia knows this place better than most having owned property close by and finished fourth, first and third on his previous three visits.

Lee Westwood, £2.8m
Another marquee name who the sponsors will be hoping can impress and signs are good. Westwood has endured a difficult spell but was steady at the Open shooting rounds of 71, 73, 69, 71. His brilliant approach play has seen him finish sixth, 23rd and sixth on his last three trips to the Alps and he won this back in 1999.  

Jamie Donaldson, £2.0m
Welshman is starting to put a decent run together, making three straight cuts at the Open (49th), Scottish (31st) and French (20th). He’s had finishes of seventh and ninth in his last three visits here.

Danny Willett, £1.6m
His price represents increasingly good value. But for a quiet third round the Englishman may have been holding a Claret Jug on Monday night and his form here is excellent – fifth, 26th, second and 25th on his last four visits.  

Tommy Fleetwood, £1.5m
Sticking with the Englishman this week despite his disappointing performance at St Andrews. He’s eighth in greens in regulation on the European Tour and has finished fifth, ninth and 19th on his last three visits to Crans.

Richie Ramsay, £1.1m
Scot was angry with himself after a final round 74 at the Open in good scoring conditions saw him drop to 68th. He remains in decent form though – 10th in Ireland and 11th in Austria – and loves this place, finishing eighth last year and winning three years ago.  

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