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Els swings into Switzerland

Els is admired for his beautiful swing as well as his achievements in the sport

(Keystone Archive)

The European Masters golf tournament has just got underway in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, with this year's event boasting one of the strongest fields in years.

South African world number four Ernie Els heads the attractive field at the annual event, which runs until Sunday.

Els is most known for having won two US Opens and a hat-trick of titles at the Matchplay world championships. But last season he also showed a more agonising form of consistency by coming second at three Majors (the US Masters, behind Vijay Singh and the US and British Opens, behind Tiger Woods).

In Crans-Montana Els is looking to rediscover his winner's reputation although he is yet to celebrate a victory in the high altitude of the Swiss resort.

"The Walrus" returns

Another former US Open champion is making a rather more unexpected appearance in Crans this weekend. Veteran American Craig Stadler, who won the US Open in 1982, has decided to stop off at the European Masters as part of a European vacation.

Swiss fans will have little difficulty picking out the distinctive player whose bushy moustache has earned him the nickname "the Walrus".

British world number 16 Lee Westwood and Denmark's world number 20 Thomas Bjorn are also expected to be in contention at the prestigious Swiss tournament, second in size only to the Basel Indoors tennis tournament.

Among the young pretenders are the likes of Australia's Adam Scott, and the Englishmen Justin Rose and Paul Casey, all of whom are being tipped as possible future rivals to Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.

With Switzerland's André Bossert missing out on the tournament to concentrate on his bid to qualify for next year's European Tour, home hopes look set to rest once more on Ticino's Paolo Quirici who last year finished 13th in Crans.

Quirici will be among a total of eleven Swiss golfers (six professionals and five amateurs) taking part.

swissinfo with agencies


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