Noren cruises to Nordea Masters win as freakish winds send scores soaring

alex noren
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Alex Noren picked up his second trophy of the season on Sunday, this one in the biggest event in his homeland of Sweden.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, July 24, 2011 | 3:46 p.m.

Alexander Noren of Sweden relied on his huge overnight lead to clinch the European Tour’s Nordea Masters title on Sunday, finishing seven shots clear despite a 5-over 77 in the final round.

Bubba Watson had been second overnight but closed with a 78 to drop back into a share of sixth place alongside Dustin Johnson, who finished with a 74.

2011 NORDEA MASTERS

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and opened in 2007, Bro Hof is considered one of the world's best new courses and a potential Ryder Cup host in the future.

Noren entered the day with an 11-shot lead after a course-record 63 on Saturday, and was never threatened despite a number of mishaps on a freakishly windy day in the Swedish capital. The Swede started and finished his round with a birdie but had five bogeys and a double bogey in between for a 15-under total of 273.

His dropped shots meant little, however, with most of the other players also struggling in the tough conditions at the Bro Hof Slott course. Richard Finch finished second after becoming the only player to break par in the final round with a 3-under 69.

"I've never seen wind like this in Sweden,” said Noren. “Every hole was super tough and even downwind it was hard to choose the clubs."

Sweden's Niklas Lemke, playing on a sponsor's invitation, finished third on 5 under after a 73, with Australia's Scott Hend and Spain's Pablo Martin a shot further back.

It was Noren’s third career victory on the European Tour and second of the season after taking the Wales Open title in June. With such a massive lead, the 29-year-old Swede said his only concern was getting past the 17th hole, a par-3 with an island green surrounded by water.

“I said it doesn’t matter how I play up to that, I just have to survive 17 and I did,” Noren said. “I’ve never seen wind like this in Sweden. Every hole was super tough and even downwind it was hard to choose the clubs.”

Finch’s round would have been even more impressive had he not found the water on that 17th hole. He settled for a triple-bogey, which took some of the shine off his 70-foot putt for birdie on the 16th.

“For 17 holes, it’s the best round of golf I’ve ever played,” Finch said. “The course is tough enough as it is without however many mile-an-hour winds it is blowing. It’s the same for everyone so you just have to try and put your best foot forward, so I just tried to hit the fairway, hit the green, and see where we can get from there.”

Finch had set the clubhouse target on 8 under par after his superb 69, the lowest round of the day making him the only man to break par, despite running up a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 17th.

Noren birdied the opening hole to move to 21 under par, but dropped shots at the third, fourth, sixth and ninth to be out in 39. However, four straight pars then steadied his nerves and meant he could afford to drop further shots at the 14th and 16th before safely negotiating the treacherous island-green 17th.

"I am so relieved,” said Noren, who also won the Wales Open at Celtic Manor earlier this season. "The only thing I thought of all day was the 17th. I said it doesn't matter how I play up to that, I just have to survive 17 and I did.

"It's even more amazing at home, everyone cheering you on and you don't really feel that somewhere else,” he added. "It's amazing, you see some friendly faces in the crowd and it's unbelievable. I'm very happy."