The European Tour takes golf’s center stage with the Omega European Masters, as the PGA Tour season concluded last week…
And what a week to do it, as they head to the Swiss Alps and Crans. Crans-Sur-Sierre plays less than the 6,850 yards it’s listed at because of being played at elevation (which results in about a 6% difference in ball flight). The course is almost as beautiful as the backdrops, and the only defense it has against low scores is the small greens and the climate. Because of the small greens, hitting them in regulation or better gives players a huge advantage, and being able to clean up pars when missing greens is just as important.
All three of the Par 5’s are reachable in two for most of the field, and birdie or better will play a role in finding our champion. Conversely, the Par 3’s make up the difficult holes, and making sure you walk away with par will be just as important as birdieing the Par 5’s. As of writing, the forecast this week isn’t ideal as it’s supposed to rain all four days with minimal wind, meaning there’s little chance that the storms blow over. The course plays differently when it’s soft (according to Danny Willett) so that might be the deciding factor this week as opposed to previous years where it’s played firm. Either way, I’d expect the winning score to be right around -15 give or take a couple shots.
- Golf Club Crans-Sur-Sierre
- Par: 71
- Yardage: 6,850 yards
- Greens: Poa/Bentgrass
Location: Crans Montana, Switzerland
- 2018: Matthew Fitzpatrick -17 in a playoff over Lucas Bjerregaard
- 2017: Matthew Fitzpatrick -14 in a playoff over Scott Hend
- 2016: Alex Noren -17 in a playoff over Scott Hend
- 2015: Danny Willett -17 over Matthew Fitzpatrick
KEY STATS TO TARGET
Strong Emphasis – SG: OTT + SG: APP, Par 5 scoring, Birdies or better, Scrambling
Important – Course History, Par 4 Scoring
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS
Rory McIlroy (DK $12,000)
- History: DNP – DNP – DNP – DNP
- Form: Win – 19th – 6th – DNP
- Stats: Not enough events on Euro Tour
- Analysis: Rory comes in following his win at the PGA Tour’s TOUR Championship, and you have to think this is more of a vacation than anything else. He does have a solid history here dating back to the early 2000s, having finished 3rd in 2011, 7th in 2009 and 2nd in 2008, but the motivation to play well here is what’s giving me hesitation. In the event he does play well, of course he has just as good of a chance as anyone at the top to win, but I wouldn’t commit a large chunk of my exposure to him.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK $11,400): Fitz tries to make it three in a row this week. The course fit is ideal (obviously if you’ve won the event two straight years and finished 7th – 2nd prior to that), but it’s tough to repeat let alone three-peat and even though he appears to be in form, all it takes is one bad round to make him a “bad” play at this price. If I’m making 10 lineups, I’d have one with Rory, two with Fitz and devote the remainder of them building with my core of players at the top of the board (Fleetwood, Wallace, Bjerregaard & Sergio).
Alex Noren (DK $9,900): Course history is a key component this week so keeping with the theme of targeting players who have played well here in the past means we should have Noren in our player pool. He didn’t play this event last year, but prior to that he finished 6th following his win in 2016 and came 9th in 2011, following the missed cut after winning in 2009. He’s clearly a course horse and has flashed form as recently as a month ago so he’d be one to target in all formats in some capacity.
Julian Suri (DK $8,600)
- History: 12th
- Form: 16th – 58th – DNP – DNP
- Stats: 18th – SG: OTT, 100th – SG: T2G, 130th – SG: APP, 27th – SG: P
- Analysis: Three rounds in the 60’s last week was good enough for a T16 in Sweden and while I didn’t think he was a solid fit, he played quite well. Green has been hitting a ton of greens in regulation this season (72%) which is good enough for 29th on Tour, and his putting has been as solid as ever. He mashes it off the tee, which probably helps pump his GIR percentage week in and week out.
Joost Luiten (DK $8,300): Current #1 overall in SG: APP on the European Tour, by .21 strokes is a pretty solid start to Luiten’s resume. His history here over the years has literally no highlights better than a 15th in 2011, and his form leading in is about as mundane (20th at the Andalucia Masters) which means we should be able to get a quality player at a decent price and low ownership. I’ll be looking to add him to several different “stud” builds this week and have no issue playing him in any format.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (DK $8,000): Bezuidenhout seems like a strong course fit for a few different reasons. He’s good at making birdies (46th on Tour), avoids bogeys (40th), plays Par 3’s (26th) and Par 5’s well (38th), and when he gets into trouble, he’s great around the greens (4th). His approach game is right around field average which is my only concern, but as a value play it’s not the end of the world and he managed to play all four days last week, which should bode well for him this week.
Honorable Mentions – Andrew Johnston (DK $8,000), Adri Arnaus (DK $7,600), Jamie Donaldson (DK $7,200)
SALARY RELIEF SECTION
Paul Dunne (DK $7,000)
- History: MC – 70th – MC
- Form: MC – 23rd – DNP – DNP
- Stats: 166th – SG: OTT, 175th – SG: T2G, 182nd – SG: APP, 4th – SG: P
- Analysis: Dunne’s play here and in running weeks is what’s bringing him down to the salary relief section, and while I wouldn’t normally suggest playing someone with such poor form leading in, his overall game deserves to be priced higher than it is this week. He’s a consistently good putter, which is something we’re used to in this price range as his tee to green game relies on getting saved on the greens. I wouldn’t target him at high exposures, but he’s someone to take a flier on.
Scott Hend (DK $6,700): Hend’s history here is the main draw: 45th – 2nd – 2nd – MC. He’s missed as many cuts as he has made here in the past, which leads me to believe if the form is off, it doesn’t matter how much he enjoys playing here. That being said, he’s probably a good cash game play and someone to avoid in GPPs, as he just hasn’t been able to string together consecutive good weeks.
Ashun Wu (DK $7,500): Wu’s played well here in two appearances thus far; 6th last year, 9th the year prior and comes in fresh off a 20th place finish last week after sitting T2 through 54 holes. He’s got a great short game; he will be my primary salary relief player to target in GPPs and someone I steer away from in cash game builds.
Honorable Mentions – Stephen Gallacher (DK $6,500), Hideo Tanihara (DK $6,400), Benjamin Rusch (DK $6,000)
CONTRARIAN CORE (GPP PLAYS)
It’s going to be tough to build rosters using all four of these guys, so my suggestion would be to use them when making 10 or more lineups so you can build different “mini-cores” – IE Tommy/Wallace, Tommy/Willett, Tommy/ Bjerregaard, Wallace/Willett, Wallace/Bjerregaard, Willett Bjerregaard then filling in with value plays.
Tommy Fleetwood (DK $10,900): Fleetwood’s run throughout the FEC Playoffs wasn’t ideal as a fanboy, but it’s something to keep in mind as we finish out the European Tour season. He didn’t play poorly, which should be good for the mental state of his game, but rather just didn’t play well enough and now he gets to play in fields that lack the strength at the top of the board. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him pick off one or two wins in the next month or two, and this week could be the first one.
Matt Wallace (DK $10,200): Wallace comes in well-rested, having not played competitively the past month. His two finishes here in the past were both outside the Top 50, so I doubt he sees much ownership and he’s really taken a turn for the better in his career, even though he hasn’t won yet this year (and really, last year’s three-win season might never be repeated by him). He’s a well-balanced player who makes birdies, avoids bogeys and really just plays golf really well.
Danny Willett (DK $9,200): 2nd here in 2012, 5th in 2014 then won in 2015. Last year’s performance (59th) isn’t an indication of how well he played through 36 holes (where he was T5), but the form leading in this year is miles ahead of where he was last year at this point (24th – 48th – 6th). Willett’s game should be a strong fit this week and his play since beginning the summer inspires confidence.
Lucas Bjerregaard (DK $9,000): Trending well in the course history department; 2nd – 9th – 49thsince missing the cut in his debut back in 2015. The lead-in form appears to be as bad as we’ve seen from the Dutchman, but he’s well-rested having not played since his missed cut at the Wyndham. Like Wallace, I think we’ll be able to get him at much lower ownership than other players in this range which is why we’ll be loading him into the core.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
Check out last week’s results for the Scandinavian Invitation