Major champions Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett are looking to continue their recent resurgence in form when they tee it up at this week’s Omega European Masters.
Both players’ last wins on the European Tour came in one of golf’s big four, with Willett claiming the Green Jacket at the 2016 Masters Tournament and Kaymer winning the second of his Majors at the 2014 US Open.
They would both admit they have not been at their brilliant best since those victories, but after a good summer that has brought encouraging results in both Rolex Series events and Majors, the duo are excited to put their best foot forward at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
Kaymer has not played this event since he finished second in 2011 and while he too is delighted to be back in the mountains, he believes the altitude could prove one of the biggest challenges this week.
Willett has an excellent record at this event, with three top fives in the last six seasons including a victory in 2015. The stunning mountain backdrop is a big favourite with the players every year and the Englishman is delighted to be back in the Swiss Alps. It is just over 12 months since Willett started working with coach Sean Foley and he feels his game is getting back to where he wants it to be.
They are joined in the field by two-time Major champion John Daly, as the big-hitting American tees it up for the first time in his career at Crans-Montana, and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez, who shows little sign of slowing down after a string of top results.
Not content with winning The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at St. Andrews in July, the 54 year old has played four times on the European Tour this season, finishing in the top 20 in each appearance. Jiménez has an outstanding record at this event, having played in 28 editions, winning once in 2010 and recording ten other top tens.
Martin Kaymer: “In Italy I played well, in Germany I played well and then the other tournaments I didn’t play well. I know it’s not the golf, I have some other things I need to deal with right now. Nothing too serious and nothing I can’t sort out but it’s step by step, I guess.
“I really enjoy playing golf and I think I’m fairly close to playing well but it’s always that five, six, seven per cent that can make a huge difference, especially in our sport.
“You just have to look around at how beautiful the place is. Once you’re here it’s a place that you don’t want to leave. I look forward to the week, I didn’t remember the golf course being in such good shape, I think the greens are very good so I look forward to playing.
“I think it’s a golf course where you really need to manage the distance. There will be a point during the day, especially when you play in the morning, where you will need to switch the percentages from maybe even up to ten per cent. I think it’s quite tricky to find the time, when does it actually change?
“The greens are good but they are firm so if you don’t hit the right clubs I think it will be very tricky to hit the greens on the right side but I think the altitude is the biggest challenge this week.”
Danny Willett: “We’re still working hard at the new things and there’s a few times when it feels more comfortable than others and it’s just getting used to the new feelings, the new moves, how the body is day in day out with it all and we’re going about it in different ways.
“We’re working pretty well and the game feels in a reasonably nice position and we’re just going to try and treat each week as it is, keep doing what we’re trying to, tick off the boxes each day and hope that we shoot some good scores.”
“It’s a special place. I think ever since I came here for the first time it’s a place where a lot of the guys come and play. The golf course lends itself to quite a lot of birdies, it makes it really exciting and it’s just a cool week.
“This place can play very different depending how firm it is, how soft it is and how the wind is playing. This year could be a little bit different, they had eight weeks with no rain, so a little bit firmer in places and the greens are a little quicker than what we’re used to around this golf course. It’s going to be an interesting test this week but a slightly different one to the last few years.”
Miguel Angel Jiménez: “I love to come here, as you say this is one of my favourite events. The golf course is beautiful here in the Alps and we are surrounded by these beautiful mountains, the valley, and I have a lot of friends here so I feel very good in this place.
“I’ve played 28 times here at the Omega European Masters because they changed it three years ago to July, the same week as the Senior Open so they forced me to play there!
“It is amazing to play at St. Andrews and win The Senior Open – it is amazing. My game is very good, I have been hitting the ball very well and I feel I identify with this golf course. I have two victories and quite a few top-tens, my game is amazing at the moment, you will see this week!”