The history of golf at Crans-sur-Sierra where this week’s Omega European Open is to be played can be traced back to 1905. Arnold Lunn, who owned the Palace Hotel, was persuaded that the pastureland to the west of the hotel was ideal for a golf course. Two Englishmen Freemantle and Gedge were commissioned and the first nine holes were opened in 1906 to be followed by the second nine in 1908.
The golf course was abandoned during World War I but was reopened in 1921 thanks to hoteliers, Elysée Bonvin (Hotel du Golf) and Albert Bonvin (Beauséjour). In 1924, the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club was founded, with René Payot as its first President.
Shortly after the opening, architect Harry Nicholson was commissioned to add improvements. A large number of greens were remodeled, and additional bunkering, thus creating the overall layout at Plan-Bramois that remained unchanged until 1997.
In 1995 Severiano Ballesteros was commissioned to make it more challenging to the professionals on the European Tour and even more attractive for the many golfers that visit this resort. After two redesigns, the course opened with new greens with various contours and slopes, new tee boxes installed and obstacles added or modified.
Past winners at Crans-sur-Sierra reads like a who’s who list of major champions, Ballesteros (1977, 1978 and 1989) José Maria Olazábal (1986), Craig Stadler (1985), Nick Price (1980) Nick Faldo (1983) Ian Woosnam and Ernie Els.
My picks to win: Lee Westwood 10/1 is back in Europe after a couple of weeks rest after competing on the PGA Tour. Lee will want to get back on the winners trail after a disappointing couple of months and with Ryder Cup points on the line from this week, will want to book his place on the team early.
Matteo Manassero 20/1 has had a bit of an up and down year, winning the Maybank Malaysian Open, but missing the cut at The Open Championship and finishing 37th in the WGC Bridgestone and USPGA. I think being back in Europe will see Matteo back in the hunt and playing great golf.
Pablo Larrazabal 50/1 just missed out at the Johnnie Walker Championship going out on the second extra hole, but it’s been far from a disappointing year for the man from Barcelona. Winning the BMW International Open and nine other Top25 places see him sitting in 11th place on the money list and looking to book a place on next years Ryder Cup team.
My each way tips: Raphaël Jacquelin 66/1 started the Johnnie Walker in great form shooting rounds of 69, 70, but a third round of 76 see him out of the running. This years Sicilian Open Champion has seven other Top 25 finishes and will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Richie Ramsay 66/1 hasn’t won this year so far but has had six Top 25 finishes, 5th place being his best finish at the Alstom Open de France, but with Ryder Cup points now up for grabs the man from Aberdeen will want to get off to a quick start.
Its been a strange year for Thomas Aiken 80/1 his first European Tour win came at the Open de España but since then everything seems to have gone down hill, missing four cuts on the bounce. But with a couple of weeks off after the USPGA and back on the European Tour, hopefully will see Thomas getting back to his best golf.