Noren’s three-peat?

David Lipsky (2014), Stephen Urquhart, past President of Omega

The Omega European Masters, one of the European Tour’s most historic events, returns this week when a star-studded field gathers at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland, 5’000 ft above sea level. It could well be the most stunning venue on the European Tour with views across the mountain ranges and valley below the seventh tee, sitting perched amongst the snow-capped Swiss Alps. The tournament is staged for the 71st time at this Alpine venue, with only Augusta National (81 times for the Masters Tournament) having held the same event more times than the Swiss venue.

Alex Noren

Europe Number 5 Alex Noren could well be the star of the show as he returns to defend the title he won in such dramatic fashion last year, beating Australian Scott Hend in a play-off. It was Noren’s second victory of the year, as well as his second at this event, and he added to that total with two more victories in 2016. The Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, returns to European Tour action for the first time since the US PGA Championship as this superb talent chases a third victory of the season at an event in which he has already claimed two top ten finishes. He is joined by his compatriots and fellow rising stars  Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, who is hoping to claim his maiden title of the season and his first since triumphing at last season’s finale, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Will they share again the winner’s podium with Danny Willett like in 2015? 

Lee Westwood

Former World Number Ones Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both return to a venue on which they have both emerged victorious – the former in 2004 and the latter in 1999. Indeed, since making his first start at the 1994 Madeira Island Open, Westwood has gone on to become one of the best European Tour players of his generation, with 23 wins on the tour. He is currently tied eighth on the all-time list of official victories alongside José María Olazábal. Westwood will celebrate a significant milestone on Thursday as he plays his 500th European Tour event just like the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who made that number a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile Miguel Ángel Jiménez will make his 38th appearance at the historic event, having won here in such glorious fashion back in 2010. And he’s in a good form, having just missed a win by the smallest margin in Alberta (Canada)  at a Champions Tour event on last Sunday, scoring 64, 65, 66.

And how would you rate the chances of World Number 33 Bernd Wiesberger? The young Austrian targets a second win in his 2017 campaign, following his fourth European Tour triumph at the Shenzhen International earlier this year. ETC/pph

Images: Stuart Franklin, Patrick Jantet