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Un Autre Regard by Yves Mittaz

Golf Omega Masters

As organiser of the European Masters in Crans-Montana, do you always experience the same feelings of excitement at the start of the tournament?

Yves Mittaz: Yes, it’s always the same feeling, even though I’ve lived with the tournament for practically forever. My father was involved in it before he down on the torch to me in 1987. It’s an event which takes up all your energy for a year and that’s why it’s always a fantastic feeling when the tournament comes to an end.

What are your greatest memories of the tournament?

Yves Mittaz: Off the top of my head there are three that come to mind. The first is without a doubt the greatest:  all I have to do it close my eyes to see Severiano Ballesteros’s fabulous shot of at the eighteenth hole, what a fabulous swing. The second comes from 1997: there had been concerns about the course, some golfers weren’t very happy. Constantino Rocca, an Italian, supported us. It turned out to be good luck for him as he won the tournament.

Finally, the third greatest memory was the exceptional stroke of the Spaniard Sergio Garcia at the sixteenth hole. A genius stroke at 15 metres which enabled him to make a come back when everyone thought all was lost: in the end it was he who won the 2005 event. Emotionally, that was of great significance as he lives at Crans Montana.

Do these stories contribute to the fame of the tournament?

Yves Mittaz: Of course. These moments of genius are relayed by television throughout the world. It’s a great acknowledgement. These magical shots are a little like a football team winning the championship in the last second of the last day. Golf is a fabulous stage for sudden comebacks, where the nature of the golfer is openly unveiled. He has to display nerves of steel at the times when tension is at its height.

Is golf a parable for life for you?

Yves Mittaz: Certainly. In life it’s as it is on the course. It’s also a school in humility. In golf your only opponent is yourself. The golfer is his own competitor. Everything can change from one day to the next. Pros and amateurs know those delicious moments where everything is going well, everything seems easy. And then, the next day, nothing goes right. It’s a sport of the mind, where you have to keep your composure when things are going great and remain positive when things are going downhill. Remember the Frenchman Jean Van de Velde in 1999. At the start of the eighteenth hole of the British Open, the biggest tournament in the world, he was three shots ahead before he collapsed. Golf is sometimes like a Shakespearian tragedy.

It’s also said that golf’s a gentlemen’s sport…

Yves Mittaz: That’s true. It’s one of the rare sports where there’s no cheating. Where you counts your points yourself, without a judge. In a sport it’s extraordinary to be so trusting.  For example, when you make an “air ball”, that’s to say when you intend on hitting the ball but fail to do so, and you count it as a shot, even though it would be easy to say: “No, no, I didn’t want to hit it.”  It’s important to be honest with yourself.

In Crans-Montana the Golf course is part of the history of the town…

Yves Mittaz: Yes, it’s a real institution, it’s been there for a hundred years. It’s also important that young people can develop there from a young age in a way that’s a natural as learning to ski or to play football. Moreover, there will be participants and courses on which they can develop and as a result the discipline will become more popular.

Your tournament is decisive for the selection for the Ryder Cup – the competition every two years which pits the European golfers against the Americans – does this give another dimension to the European Masters at Crans-Montana?

Yves Mittaz: Of course. Talking about popularity: the Ryder Cup is a highly influential competition which places the American and European circuits against each other. It’s worthy of a Manchester United – Liverpool clash, because the Ryder Cup is a team sport. Calling it this causes the supporters to get excited. It’s really an exceptional thing for golf.

In your opinion, who is the greatest golfer in history?

Yves Mittaz: Ballesteros, without doubt. He had charisma, a great eye and a magnificent technique. He has also helped to give golf a world wide appeal and popularity. A great man who also designed the Crans Montana course, which bears his name today.

What values do you feel that Nespresso bring to the tournament?

"Yves Mittaz: That of excellence. There’s a perfect symbiosis between the beauty of the site and the brand Nespresso. Today Nespresso is acknowledged to be of incomparable quality on the world stage. It’s great when a sporting competition is capable of bearing the values of a business like Nespresso. Like the enchanting setting of the tournament, Nespresso is also an image of Switzerland, one of its most flamboyant ambassadors.

From now on there are mountains, chocolate, banks and Nespresso. It’s a part of our fatherland. I appreciate their attachment to the tournament all the more because Nespresso has been loyal since the start of the 90s, the time when Nespresso was beginning its compelling ascent."

What do you hope for the 2009 tournament?

Yves Mittaz: Like all outside sports, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the sun will be shining. Otherwise, this year promises to be great with six players being in the European top 15.

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