Saturday, 04 June 2011

Alex Noren birdied the final hole to retain his one shot lead with a round to play at the Saab Wales Open.

The Swede carded a level par 71 to remain eight under par, with his compatriot Peter Hanson and Dane Anders Hansen on seven under.

Former Omega European Masters champion Noren had something of a rollercoaster ride in the windy conditions, Hansen a superlative 66 - but Graeme McDowell tumbled from second place overnight to 33rd with an 81.

Noren looked as if he might tumble off the leaderboard as well when he three-putted the fourth and sixth and then took six at the long ninth after a wild drive led to a penalty drop.

“I thought it was so much tougher than yesterday, especially around the greens,” he said. “It was the same direction as off the tees and into the greens, you kind of just had to add and take off the stronger wind.

“But on the greens, some putts played really slow and some played really fast, and I had a little bit of trouble getting the pace right. So it's a bit more of a struggle than yesterday.”

But the 28 year old came back with three birdies in four holes from the 11th.

That enabled him to grab the lead back from Hansen, who from two over after three holes went crazy with six birdies and then a near-albatross at the downwind 575 yard last.

Needing only a seven iron for his second shot he could not believe that it finished three inches behind the hole.

"I've never had albatross, but I'm happy with eagle," he said.

“I hit a lot of good golf shots and seemed to take advantage of the chances that I did have. When I didn't have chances, I sort of tried to keep the ball in play. And I did make three bogeys, so it's a tough day out there.”

Hanson, who made his Ryder Cup debut at the course last year, started with two bogeys, but played the last 16 in five under to boost his chances of a fifth European Tour win.

“I've been happy the way I've been playing,” he said. “Struggling a bit off the tee the first two rounds, and today I felt I hit it much better and iron play was good.

“Especially today when it was windy, I scrambled very well and made some really good putts, like the one on the last.”

Welshman Jamie Donaldson is two behind in fourth place as he seeks not only to become the first home winner, but also grab his first European Tour victory in well over 200 starts.

“I put myself in a good position,” he said. “It was nice to finish like that - I needed to finish like that to give myself a chance, and we did finish well. Here we are in a good, strong position.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-9
T2BOURDY, GrégoryFRA18-7
T2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-7
T4GONZALEZ, RicardoARG18-6
T4EDFORS, JohanSWE18-6

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