The top golfers on the European Tour have descended on the Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, for the 2014 Omega European Masters.
The Race to Dubai is in full swing, and as we edge ever closer to the end of the season, a number of top players currently find themselves outside of the top 60. The likes of Felipe Aguilar and Bradley Dredge can't afford to drop anymore points, so the stakes will be high at the 2014 European Masters.
American David Lipsky claimed his first European Tour victory by winning the 2014 Omega European Masters in Switzerland on Sunday after a playoff with Englishman Graeme Storm.
The Los Angeles-born Lipsky carded a final-round 65, which included a birdie on No. 18 to finish the day tied at the top of the leaderboard with Storm, who shot a two-under round of 68 for 18-under overall.
Thus a playoff was needed to split the two and Lipsky won it at the first attempt, claiming a fine par on the 18th as Storm could only score a five.
|Position||Player||To Par||Sunday's Score|
Lipsky's fine final round included six birdies, three bogeys and an eagle on the par-four seventh.
Playing in the penultimate group, he birdied the last hole to put pressure on Storm in the final pair, but the Englishman held his nerve to par the last and take it to sudden death.
Playing the 18th again to find a winner, neither Lipsky nor Storm was in an ideal position from the tee, the latter driving way right up to a wall and the former finding a bunker.
The Englishman could only chip out onto the fairway for his second while Lipsky decided to lay up in front of the green from the bunker rather than take on the pin.
However, it proved to be a good move as the Californian chipped his third to within a few feet, Storm leaving himself a tricky par putt, which he then missed.
Lipsky tapped in for the victory after an eventful but very well made four, as acknowledged by Lee Westwood:
Lee Westwood @WestwoodLee
That's some four David Lipsky just made!!!2014-9-7 15:06:34
Tyrrell Hatton and Brooks Koepka finished tied in third on 17-under, the latter bogeying the 17th to fall back from the eventual leading score.
Two Englishman finished one shot further back to tie for fifth with Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood finishing on 16-under.
Willett shot a quite incredible 63 for his final round, going through his first nine in an extraordinary six-under par, per OmegaEuropeanMasters:
Danny Willett scored 6 under par on the first 9. he is now -15 #omegaEUmasters20142014-9-7 11:40:40
After Storm's hole-in-one on the 11th on Saturday, Frenchman Romain Wattel matched the trick in his final round, his ace contributing to a fine round of 65 to finish tied for ninth on 13-under. He was clearly delighted with his week's work, per the European Tour:
I saw the crowd were celebrating but I didn’t know if that was because it was close, or in the hole. [...]
Unfortunately it was one day too late! But I’m obviously still really pleased with it, and with my performance today. I played very well over the weekend, it was just a shame I took too long to get started on the first two days. But I’m still delighted.
It was a thrilling finish at the Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre after a week of terrific golf and a new European Tour winner.
Up next is the KLM Open in the Netherlands where all the players in the field will be looking to match Lipsky's achievement from Sunday.
Richie Ramsay couldn't continue his excellent play from the opening two rounds on Saturday, opening the door for several top contenders to step forward as the 2014 Omega European Masters gets ready for a sensational conclusion.
Ramsay only shot par 66, which gave the lead to Jamie Donaldson thanks to a phenomenal front nine, but with the Welshman struggling on the back nine, the clubhouse leaderboard was thrown on its head in a heartbeat.
England's Graeme Storm holds a one-shot lead over compatriot Tommy Fleetwood after the third round of action, but with several challengers putting together solid rounds behind him, who will win this year's Omega Masters is anyone's guess.
|Position||Player||To Par||Saturday's Score|
Storm equaled his excellent first-round score of six-under 64 to take the top spot on the leaderboard, with an hole-in-one on the 11th hole making the difference:
As shared by the tournament's official Twitter feed, the Englishman will receive a brand new car for his efforts:
Hole in one for Graeme Storm!!! The Englishman’s super shot came up at hole 11. Wins a BMW, value 173’440 Swiss Francs.#omegaEUmasters20142014-9-6 12:40:53
Storm bogeyd thrice on a wild and wacky day of golf, but seven birdies and his hole-in-one gave him an excellent final score and the lead heading into the final round.
Fleetwood is just one shot behind, thanks to a remarkably consistent day. With contenders all around him struggling to find the fairway, the Brit remained calm after a bogey on the second hole to finish seven-under 63, one of the top scores of the day.
As shared by the European Tour, par-five has been particularly kind to him:
The European Tour @EuropeanTour
.@TommyFleetwood loves a par five in the Swiss mountains - he's played them 8 times and has made 7 birdies + 1 eagle. http://t.co/hrv6ijrZs32014-9-6 12:28:04
The USA's Brooks Koepka is one shot further back, shooting four-under 66 on the day, but his performance could have been so much better had it not been for a double bogey on the final hole. The event's Twitter feed shared how it happened:
Bunker, water, rough – Joint leader Brooks Koepka lost two strokes on the last hole and felt back to –14. #omegaEUmasters20142014-9-6 14:35:53
Ramsay and Donaldson both fell back in the standings on Saturday, and the duo currently chases leader Storm by four strokes. Scotland's Ramsay bogeyd four times on the front nine, but he rebounded nicely on the back nine to limit the damage and give himself a fighting chance on Sunday.
Donaldson's day was perhaps even more frustrating. After a flawless front nine which featured four birdies, he recorded a double and a triple bogey on the back nine that brought him back down to earth.
Peter Lawrie played the round of the day, shooting eight-under 62 to work his way onto the doorstep of the top 10. Speaking to Europeantour.com, he almost appeared shocked with his own performance:
I was lucky yesterday to make the cut. I holed about a 15-footer at the last and made the cut on the mark.
I came out this morning, tried to shoot a low number and all of a sudden holed a few putts from pretty close. The magic 59 was on with a couple of holes to play. Unfortunately I didn’t do that but 62 is a very good score.
Sunday will see the final day of the event, and following a day filled with upsets and poor play, fans will be on the edge of their seats to find out who can finish the job in the final round.
Ramsay knows the Swiss course well and was in fine form until that fateful front nine today, but if he can rebound and get back to the way he was playing before, he still stands a good chance of emerging victorious.
Richie Ramsay kept up his superb play on the second day of competition, shooting four-under 66 to take sole possession of the top spot on the clubhouse leaderboard.
The Scot recorded his first blemish of the tournament on Friday, with the conditions less favourable than on Day 1, but a strong effort on the scramble saw him close out the day with a one-shot lead.
|Position||Player||To Par||Friday's Score|
|T4||Gareth Maybin||-9||/ (After 16)|
|T4||Graeme Storm||-9||/ (After 14)|
Ramsay opened his round with a birdie on the first hole, setting the tone for another excellent performance. While he wasn't able to replicate his sensational score of eight-under 62 from Thursday, a score of four-under 66 still ranked as one of the best on the day.
The former champion recorded his first bogey of the event on the fifth hole but was otherwise flawless, thanks to a great effort on the scramble, going 4/5. His driving distance dropped by more than 30 yards compared to Day 1, but that was to be expected on a colder day.
Ramsay told Europeantour.com exactly that:
Today was a little bit tougher especially on the back nine, where some of the pins were very tricky. The rain made life a bit trickier and the temperature also dropped, which made distance control difficult. So it was definitely harder than yesterday, but I stayed steady and my attitude was good again, so overall it was another good day’s work.
I’ve got a lot of experience in this tournament, and I’ve got some experience of leading at the halfway stage. So whether I’m leading going into tomorrow or just off the pace, it won’t affect me too much because I know I’m playing well.
USA's Brooks Koepka has been a model of consistency during the tournament, as shared by Omega European Masters:
Brooks Koepka (USA) scored another 65 (–5) and is –10, two behind leader Ramsay, one in front of countryman David Lipsky.#omegaEUmasters20142014-9-5 11:34:17
Koepka was one of the few to improve on his stats compared to Day 1, finding the fairway on nine of 13 attempts and increasing his driving distance by four yards. Another round of five-under 65 keeps him well within range of Ramsay, and as he told Europeantour.com, his aggressive play is the reason behind his success:
I’ve got some great memories of this place from last year, so it’s great to be back here – you quickly forget about hitting a good shot when you notice the views.
It’s the sort of course which you need to know well to play well on. It’s pretty tricky in places, but I’ve made a conscious decision to try to be as aggressive as possible without getting reckless. It seems to be working well so far.
Thomas Bjorn had a miserable day, shooting three-over 66 to fall way out of the top 10, dangerously close to the cutoff point. While he looked solid on the front nine, he completely lost the pedals on the back nine, shooting bogey after bogey. This fan is a little concerned, with the Ryder Cup just around the corner:
Barry Stevenson @BazStevenson73
Anyone else nervous that Thomas Bjorn is in the Ryder Cup team? #playinglikeacoo2014-9-5 15:32:31
Jamie Donaldson is just one shot behind event leader Ramsay after a round of six-under 64, improving on his score from Thursday. The Welshman hit five birdies on the front nine to power his way up the leaderboard, despite big struggles from the tee, as shared by the European Tour:
The European Tour @EuropeanTour
Donaldson is on the move. 5 birdies and 4 pars on the front nine sees the Welshman move to -10, two back of Ramsay. http://t.co/RtxiXmsUCS2014-9-5 13:42:20
Donaldson didn't find the fairway once in his round, but 17 of 18 scrambles helped him finish with an excellent score nonetheless.
Richie Ramsay started Thursday on fire and kept up the high pace throughout his opening round, shooting an eight-under 62 to take a two-stroke lead at the top of the clubhouse leaderboard.
Ranked 75th on the Race to Dubai, the Scot could use a big result in Switzerland to remain in contention for a spot in the World Tour Championship, played in November.
He's joined at the top by Italy's Edoardo Molinari, who recorded eight birdies and displayed remarkable consistency playing in one of the final groups.
The British Isles produced an excellent display on the day with great performances from Tommy Fleetwood, Gareth Maybin and Jamie Donaldson, among others, while defending champion Thomas Bjorn also enjoyed a strong start on Thursday.
|Position||Player||To Par||Thursday's Score|
Ramsay started his round with an eagle on the opening hole and birdies on the second and third. He carried that form throughout the day, with four more birdies and not a single blemish.
The European Tour shared this beautiful image of Ramsay on the first hole, with the peaks of the Alps in the background:
The European Tour @EuropeanTour
Eagle-birdie start for 2012 @OmegaEUMasters champion, Richie Ramsay. http://t.co/aMgZuwI2Dv2014-9-4 11:55:01
Ramsay clearly likes the courses in Switzerland, having won the tournament back in 2012. He'll take confidence from his great performance here on Day 1, something he sorely needs after a season filled with inconsistency.
2013 winner Thomas Bjorn chases Ramsay and Molinari by four shots, shooting a four-under 66 on the day. He felt Ramsay's performance was aided by the temperature difference between the morning and afternoon sessions, as he told Europeantour.com:
It was ideal this morning, although it was a bit cold early on. Usually that would mean the ball doesn’t go as far, but with the altitude that cancelled one another out.
There was hardly any wind out there today, so the course was definitely there for the taking. I won’t be anywhere near the top of the leaderboard by the end of the day, but it’s still a reasonable enough start.
Bjorn bogeyed the 11th but played a very consistent round overall, finding the green with ease. With an eye on the Ryder Cup, the Dane's solid play during the morning round is a good sign for the European team's chances.
Ryder Cup teammate Jamie Donaldson shot one better than Bjorn, with a bogey on his final hole keeping him from joining a cluster of players in the third spot on the leaderboard.
Donaldson scored a beautiful eagle at the 15th hole, a sensational putt from 25 feet, and he explained how it happened to Europeantour.com:
It’s a tough flag on the back right, and I actually pulled my second shot slightly. But if you’re going to miss, you have to miss on the left side. So it was a good miss if you like, and I left myself with a fairly straightforward chip which I managed to hole, so that was a bit of a bonus.
I went on a good run there, and holed a few nice putts. It was obviously disappointing to bogey the last, and I missed a few shots coming home. But overall I have to be very pleased with a round of 65 to start.
Plenty of players got off to fast starts on Thursday, courtesy of pristine conditions on one of Switzerland's most iconic courses.
The pleasant weather is expected to continue throughout the weekend, but with the pressure of the Race to Dubai mounting, expect some of the contenders to tumble down the leaderboard in the coming days.