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Saturday, 05 September 2009
KLM Open -Round One  (Getty Images)
KLM Open -Round One (Getty Images)

Alexander Noren leads with a round to play at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland after a brilliant putting display.

The 27 year old Swede, seeking his first European Tour title, produced a sparkling 63 to move two ahead of South African Charl Schwartzel on 15 under par.

Noren could hardly miss over the closing stretch. He was three behind Schwartzel on the 15th tee, but sank a seven foot eagle putt there and then holed from 15 feet at the short 16th and ten feet on the final green.

"I played pretty much the same as yesterday, but was seven shots different and that was pretty much seven putts different," he said. “The greens are good, but as soon as you start missing you start forcing them. Today I was calmer and 'letting it happen' as the mental coaches would say.

“All I have thought about lately is playing a bit better. I started the year well and had a few chances and then I got injured for three months due to two injuries and then after that I have been struggling to come back. I have played better lately but it feels great to have the chance to win again. I have led once going into the final round and didn't do it but you have to do it eventually - tomorrow feels like it will be a good day.”

The former Oklahoma State student is 88th on The Race to Dubai, but that is partly explained by two injury lay-offs - first his wrist and then his knee while out running.

Schwartzel shot 65, but was heading for something even better before he went from a greenside bunker into the trees on the 516 yard 15th and took six.

“I felt like I played really well,” said the former Madrid Masters winner. “I am swinging the club well and if you can get your ball on the greens around this golf course then you are going to make a good score. There are a lot of birdies out there if you are playing well. I have managed to put myself in position for the last round and if I can play like I did today then I can win tomorrow.”

Welshman Bradley Dredge, winner in 2006 and desperate to play against the Americans on home soil at The Celtic Manor Resort next October, is three behind in third place following a 68.

The biggest move through the field came from England's Chris Wood, the Bristol 21 year old who was fifth in The Open Championship last year as an amateur and then joint third with Westwood at Turnberry in July.

Wood began the day joint 30th with Westwood and McIlroy, but ended it joint sixth on ten under thanks to a 65.

It was not a day to remember for overnight leader Thomas Aiken. Resuming one ahead of Dredge and Miguel Angel Jiménez, the South African had two double-bogey sevens and needed a long birdie putt on the last just for a 75.

Jiménez, keen to make a fourth Ryder Cup appearance at the age of 46 next year, had a double bogey of his own on the 235 yard 16th and slipped to joint fourth with England's Ross McGowan and Filipino Angelo Que - part of the Asian Tour contingent taking part in the first co-sanctioned tournament in Europe.

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