2023 Omega European Masters Preview, Picks & Analysis
WELL, this is it. The European Masters at the magnificent Crans-sur-Sierre brings the curtain down on the race for places in Europe’s Ryder Cup team. After the winning putt has been holed on Sunday, Luke Donald will face the world’s press and name his team to face the USA at Marco Simone Golf Club.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, the 2022 US Open champion, is also certain to be in the team and will be looking to win this tournament for a third time. He will also be hoping for a change of fortunes in the Ryder Cup - he has represented Europe twice and is yet to register a point.
He's come a long way since winning back-to-back titles at Crans-Montana in 2017 and 2018. Fitzpatrick has eight wins on the DP World Tour. He also proved his consistency by finishing second in the Race to Dubai in 2020 and was fourth in 2021 and 2022. This year, he has spent the bulk of the season on the PGA Tour, winning the RBC Heritage in April.
The European Masters is a tournament that holds a special place in his heart, and it was with his family that he celebrated his back-to-back wins.
This year, he returns after a three-year break. Only three players have won this title on three occasions, including the legendary Seve Ballesteros. Another added motivation will his 29th birthday celebration on the Friday of the tournament.
Matt Wallace won the Corales Puntacana Championship on the PGA Tour earlier this year but has probably given himself too much to do to make Donald’s team, even if he manages to win this week. He is a four-time winner on the DP World Tour and finished second here last year.
Another on the fringes of selection is Yannik Paul. He made history in 2016 when he and his twin brother Jeremy became the first twins to play in the same European Tour event at the BMW International Open in their native Germany. Paul won the Mallorca Open last October in his first year on the DP World Tour. He has also had two second place finishes, at the Indian Open and Thailand Classic and a third place at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed in June.
Speaking of twins, Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard will also be in the field. Rasmus won this event in 2021 and will definitely be one of the players under consideration by Donald. Still only 22, Rasmus won the Mauritius Open at the age of 18, becoming the third youngest winner on the DP World Tour. He claimed his fourth title earlier this summer when he won the Made in Himmerland in his native Denmark.
Danny Willett won here in 2015 and then took advantage of Jordan Spieth’s collapse to win The Masters the following year. It has all been something of a struggle for the Englishman since then. He finished second in the Race to Dubai in both 2015 and 2016 but then struggled with injury and a loss of form, parting company with his caddie and coach.
Willett raised hopes that he might be on the way back when he finished second at the Fortinet Championship in September last year but there have been eight missed cuts and two withdrawals because of injury. The Sheffield golfer is one the hardest workers in the sport and will be looking to draw on some good memories here.
You may not have heard of Justin Suh. He is a former world number one amateur and finished top of the Korn Ferry rankings last year, earning his PGA Tour card. He finished tied fifth at the Honda Classic and tied sixth at the Players Championship, which helped him to retain his card for next season. Suh is a hugely gifted player and could be a man to watch this week.
But all eyes will be on those still jostling for the last places up for grabs in Donald’s team. Robert MacIntyre, Adrian Meronk, Victor Perez, Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard and Ewen Ferguson, this is your moment to show us what you are made of.
It was won in 2015 by Danny Willett, in 2016 by Alex Noren, in 2017 and 2018 by Matthew Fitzpatrick, in 2019 by Sebastian Soderberg, in 2021 by Rasmus Hojgaard and in 2022 by Thriston Lawrence. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.
It is hard to see beyond Matthew Fitzpatrick. The 2022 US Open champion won the RBC Heritage and enjoyed a superb FedEx Cup run. He is now sneaky long and has a wondrous short game. And he knows how to win here.
Crans-sur-Sierre is arguably the most beautiful golf course visited by the DP World Tour. Set in the Alps, it affords spectacular views. It is a par 70 measuring just 6,824 yards, which means that anybody with designs of victory here knows they are going to have to go low. The fairways are tree-lined, which means that accuracy from the tee is a requirement. Thriston Lawrence’s winning total last year was 262. This is a course that offers the chance for somebody to record a 59.
Matthew Fitpatrick. Looking for third title here
Rasmus Hojgaard. A win here might just be good enough to secure a Ryder Cup place
Robert MacIntyre. Keen to recapture his Scottish Open form
Five to Follow:
Matthew Fitzpatrick. World class
Rasmus Hojgaard. Great ball striker
Robert MacIntyre. Has Marco Simone on his mind
Nicolai Hojgaard. Would love to go head to head with his twin brother
Ewen Ferguson. Mercurial talent who can go really low
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Alex Fitzpatrick. The real deal
Padraig Harrington. Can never be written off
Miguel Angel Jimenez. Golden oldie
Scott Jamieson. Course is made for his game
Victor Dubuisson. Would love to see him in the frame again
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