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Saturday, 23 July 2011
Alex Noren  (Getty Images)
Alex Noren (Getty Images)
Alex Noren rewrote the record books with a sensational 63 at Bro Hof Slott to lead by 11 shots after three rounds of the Nordea Masters.

The 29 year old knocked two shots off the course record in his native Stockholm to establish the joint second-highest lead in European Tour history.

Only Retief Goosen, who was 13 shots clear at the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic, has been further ahead with one round left to play.

And the history books will have to be rewritten again if anyone is to deny Noren his second title of the season - nobody has ever come from more than ten behind to win in the final round of a European Tour event.

Starting the day three ahead of Shiv Kapur, Noren briefly came under pressure from Bubba Watson when the American Ryder Cup star birdied his first three holes.

But a first birdie of the day from six feet at the fifth did wonders for the Saab Wales Open champion’s confidence, and he struck his approach at the next to within a foot.

A majestic long iron at the par five ninth left Noren with a two foot eagle putt, which he duly converted to turn in a four under par 32.

The 2009 Omega European Masters winner then holed from eight feet at the tenth, before adding further gains on the 12th, 13th and 15th.

And if Noren had any doubts that the golfing Gods were on his side, then confirmation came at the 18th.

Moments after nearest challenger Watson double bogeyed, Noren hooked his drive under the stands down the left, received a free drop, and struck a splendid approach to six feet before holing his birdie putt.

That led to an 11 under par total for his round, taking the World Number 92 to 20 under for the week at a venue where the winning 72-hole score a year ago was only 11 under.

“Unreal, obviously,” said Noren, before heading to a friend’s wedding to drink “water and diet coke”.

“It was an amazing feeling. I never thought it would be possible to shoot these scores. Every shot went the way I wanted - I don’t know what to say - I’m just so happy to play like this.

“It’s hard to sink in. I’ve never dreamt of playing like this here, I just thought if I make the cut I will be happy this week. 20 under is better than I can imagine.”

With the lengthy Bro Hof Slott layout well suited to his game, big-hitting left-hander Watson had wasted little time making his move.

He took advantage of the opening par five, birdied the next and completed his hattrick with an approach to five feet at the third.

The World Number 14 spun his approach to eight feet at the sixth, but missed a ten foot eagle putt at the ninth after a wonderful approach and had to settle for a fifth birdie of the day.

However, the back nine saw a mixture of two birdies and two bogeys before Watson’s costly misjudgement on the last.

Watson had nothing but praise for Noren after his round - comparing his performance to that of Rory McIlroy at last month’s US Open Championship.

“He’s playing so good right now, like McIlroy in the States at the US Open,” he said. “When a guy’s playing that good you can only keep going and do your best.

“I was just thinking one shot at a time. Played really good, just lost focus on the back nine and couldn’t recover from it. One bad swing on 18 cost me a double.”

Another Swede, Christian Nilsson, impressed with a 66 to join South African Jaco Van Zyl (70) in a share of third on eight under. But there could be no doubt that the day belonged to Noren.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-15
2FINCH, RichardENG18-8
3LEMKE, NiklasSWE18-5
T4HEND, ScottAUS18-4
T4MARTIN BENAVIDES, PabloESP18-4
T6JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-3
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