• Van Rooyen leads 14 Saffas in Swiss chase

    Erik van Rooyen
    Back to work

    Last week’s Scandinavian Invitation winner, Erik van Rooyen heads up a 14-strong South African complement at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club for the Omega European Masters.

    Van Rooyen was back at work on Tuesday and has already promised to be back in competition mode just a few days after securing his maiden title. [Read that story HERE].

    Joining the 29-year-old on the first tee at 1:40 pm will be 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett and reigning Made in Denmark and Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion Bernd Wiesberger. 10 minutes later Brandon Stone starts his bid alongside American Kurt Kitayama and Australia’s Scott Hend.

    READ: Burmester trending, ready to land the big one

    Van Rooyen starts as the 12th-highest-ranked player in the field, such is the strength of this week’s event but following his win, he jumped to ninth in the Race to Dubai standings; only four players this week start above him in that race.

    Matthew Fitzpatrick, who was overtaken by Van Rooyen on the final hole in Sweden, defends alongside Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood.

    Fitzpatrick equalled a 40-year record when he became the first player since the legendary Seve Ballesteros in 1978 to defend his title in Crans Montana and will aim to go a step further this week.

    No player has ever claimed three successive Omega European Masters titles and the Sheffield native will hope to make a flying start in the company of the 2017 Masters Tournament winner and the 2017 European No 1 when they tee off at 1:30 pm on Thursday.

    The biggest obstacle will be another winner from last week… four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy.

    He leads a high-quality all British three-ball at 8:30 am, starting on the back nine alongside 24-time European Tour winner Lee Westwood and fellow Englishman Matt Wallace.

    Jaco van Zyl will be in the first group out with Darren Fichardt off 20 minutes later.

    Third last week, Dean Burmester, will be joined by France’s Victor Perez and Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares at 08:50 am.

    Scotland’s Liam Johnston and England’s Matt Southgate join former top-ranked amateur Wilco Nienaber in the afternoon wave. The trio start on Thursday at 2 pm.

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