Crans Montana, August 30: The reputation of the Omega European Masters is now well established and one of the most renowned international sporting events in Switzerland. With a rich, long history, the tournament occupies an important place in the European Tour calendar of 47 events in 26 countries. From September 7 to 10, the Omega European Masters will take place for the 71st time on the Severiano Ballesteros course at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club, the longest time a European Tour event has been held in the same place.
With a budget of 12 million francs, it has many characteristics: tradition, innovation and ambiance. Furthermore, it benefits from the strong support of a loyal group of sponsors, accompanied at the head by the title sponsor, Omega, the main sponsors – Credit Suisse, who just signed a new partnership for the next 4 years, BMW, Vaudoise and a new comer from this year, the PPG company. For the 2017 tournament, the golf fans can once again enjoy watching one of the most attractive line-ups of players, from legends of golf to world tournament winners and the super-talents. The 156 players will compete for a prize money pot of 2.7 million euros, the highest of all the great annual Swiss sporting events.
Among the great golfers that will feature in the 2017 tournament: Title holder, the Swede Alex Noren, who was triumphant earlier this year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in England following a magnificent 2016 season including 4 victories. He is currently no. 5 in the European ranking and 11th in the World; Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (26 years old), on the back of 2 victories (Abu Dhabi Championship and French Open) as well as seven other top 10 finishes, is the clear leader of the « Race to Dubai » with prize money of 3.77 million euros and ranked 16th in the world; Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (31 years old), winner last April at the « Shenzhen International » in China, his 4th victory on the European Tour (ranked no.10), will be competing for the 6th time on the Haut-Plateau in Valais (best finish: 6th in 2012). On course to the title, he will have to beat the young Englishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick (22 years old), already runner up at Crans-Montana in 2015, as well as his compatriot Danny Willett – brilliant winner of the US Masters in 2016, he started the 2017 season in fine form but has fallen off a little in recent months. Unconditional admirer of the Crans-Montana venue, he could well deliver a nice surprise.
23 winners of the 36 European Tour events that have taken place already this year, will be teeing off at the Omega European Masters 2017. Among them: Jordan Smith (ENG); Alexander Levy (FRA); Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR); Dylan Fritelli (RSA); Graeme Storm (ENG); Renato Paratore (ITA); Edoardo Molinari (ITA); Andres Romero (ARG) and Brett Rumford (AUS), winner at Crans in 2007. To the delight of the spectators, 2 great legends of golf will return to Crans-Montana: Englishman Lee Westwood (44 years old; 14th appearance) and the super-charismatic Spaniard Miguel Ángel Jiménez (53 years old; 28th appearance).
Westwood won the tournament back in 1999 and has 42 PGA victories to his name across Europe, USA and Asia. He was a member of the winning Ryder Cup team on 7 occasions and was several times the no. 1 golfer in the world. As for Jiménez, he won the Omega European Masters in 2010. His honours to date include 21 victories on the European Tour and, since joining the very lucrative Champions Tour in 2014 on the American senior circuit, he has already triumphed 4 times.
No less than 11 previous winners at Crans will be teeing off: in addition to those already mentioned – Noren (2009 and 2016), Willett (2015), Jiménez (2010), Rumford (2007) and Westwood (1999) – David Lipsky (USA; 2014), Thomas Björn (DEN; 2011 and 2013), Richie Ramsay (SCO; 2012), Bradley Dredge (WAL; 2006), Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG; 2001)and Mathias Grönberg (SWE; 1995).
For the 9th consecutive year, some of the best players from the Asian Tour will contribute to the mix of such an interesting and promising group of 2017 competitors. The « Order of Merit », of which the top 30 automatically qualify for Crans, includes the Omega European Masters champion from 2014, American David Lipsky plus S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) and Phachara Khongwatmai (THA).
From Switzerland, the following golf professionals have secured their place: Luca Galliano (Como), Benjamin Rusch (Lipperswil GC), Jean-Luc Burnier (La Côte GC) and Raphaël de Sousa (Geneva GC).
Two amateurs complete the bill: Arthur Ameil-Planchin (CH; Aix Les Bains GC) and Jeremy Freiburghaus (CH; Domat/Ems GC).
Two new activities are presented this year:
The OMEGA Celebrity Masters – the first ever “OMEGA Celebrity Masters” will take place during the 2017 Omega European Masters in Crans-Montana. The celebrities, playing in teams of two, will compete in a “best ball scramble”, with Par the maximum score on each hole and the team with the most birdies crowned champions. All celebrity players are competing for their own selected charities with OMEGA making donations on their behalf. The game will tee off on the main course in Crans-Montana, following on from the professionals in the Omega European Masters. This will ensure a complete tournament atmosphere for both players and spectators.
« Birdies for Good » – Credit Suisse, through its charity program « Birdies for Good », will donate, for each birdie shot on hole 8, CHF 100.- to the association “hiki” for children with brain injuries.
The line-up is really interesting and the tournament is unique! Come and join us – the golf fiesta will be great! The three Swiss TV channels (RTS, SRF et RSI) will broadcast the tournament live on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September; Canal+/Golf+ will also be live (app available for tablets and smartphones). Canal9 will present the highlights each evening.
The Omega European Masters 2017 entry list can be downloaded here: http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2017/tournamentid=2017074/teetimes/index.html