Sunday, 05 June 2011

Swede Alex Noren won his second European Tour title at The Celtic Manor Resort - and this time all it needed was solid golf rather than a moment of magic.

The 28 year old's previous win came in Switzerland two years ago after he sank a bunker shot for an eagle four holes from the end.

Noren has now added the Saab Wales Open at The Ryder Cup venue by two strokes from Dane Anders Hansen and Frenchman Grégory Bourdy after a closing 70 containing just two birdies and one mistake.

That came on the driveable 15th when, with confidence high and a three stroke cushion, he went for the green with a three wood and saw it go left and kick down a bank into a hazard.

A bogey five brought the gap down to two, but he parred the last three holes for a nine under par total of 275.

It completed a dream week that began with him qualifying for the US Open Championship - his first ever Major in America.

But Noren's work goes on. Winning the title and €344,358 does not spare him from 36 holes of Open Championship qualifying at Sunningdale on Monday.

"It will be weird, but I will look forward to it," he said.

"My driving has been the best it's ever been. I never really believed I could do well on tough courses, but now we play them all the time.

"I've proved to myself I can hit a lot of greens and not just rely on my short game."

His name follows that of Graeme McDowell onto the trophy - and last year, of course, the Ulsterman went on to capture the US Open Championship as well.

McDowell had hopes of a successful defence when he was in second place behind Noren at halfway, but then came a nightmare Saturday 81 and even an improvement of ten strokes lifted him only to 30th place.

Noren had resumed one ahead of Hansen and Peter Hanson, but by the seventh green that had swelled to four.

Hansen was the first to fall back, taking a double bogey seven on the long second after his ball plugged in sand.

Hanson went joint top with a ten foot putt on the fourth, but missed a three foot opportunity at the next, double bogeyed the sixth after failing to make it over the water with his approach and then three-putted the next.

Bourdy set the target of seven under with a birdie at the par five last and Hansen's birdie at the short 17th - a hole that had earlier seen Scot Elliot Saltman hole-in-one for the second time in the week - meant he still had a chance.

But although Noren went over the green in two on the last and then played a poor chip, Hansen was bunkered, came out 18 feet past the flag and both took five.

“He played very solid,” said Hansen. “That must be nice for Alex, he's such a good guy, and he really deserves to win. He's been playing great golf this year.”

Johan Edfors, another Swede, eagled the hole to share fourth with Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez, who came back from an opening triple bogey seven to shoot a 67.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-9
T2BOURDY, GrégoryFRA18-7
T2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-7
T4GONZALEZ, RicardoARG18-6
T4LARRAZÁBAL, PabloESP18-6
T4EDFORS, JohanSWE18-6
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