Sweden’s Alex Noren moved into the European Tour Race to Dubai’s top five after a terrific display saw him play a mammoth 133 holes for an eventual third place finish at the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play.
The nine time European Tour winner came into the final day with a 100% record after winning all three of his group matches as well as two knockout matches. But American Kevin Kisner got the better of the Swede in the semi-final with a play-off required after finishing all square through 18. Noren’s third place finish won him 695,000 Race to Dubai points which takes his season tally to 821,500 and sees him surge him from 53rd to fifth place in the Race to Dubai Rankings.
“Many congratulations to Alex on a thrilling weekend at the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai Office. “ We look forward to seeing Alex’s career progress after his recent run of fine form and hope to see him at his seventh DP World Tour Championship, Dubai later this year.”
The 35 year old went toe-to-toe with Kisner in the semi-final with both men exchanging the lead through the front nine. Kisner went into the back nine with the lead but quickly lost it after superb birdie from Noren left it all square after 12. The Ryder Cup hopeful had the chance to claim victory on the 18th but his birdie putt narrowly missed which meant a play-off was needed. Noren’s miss-putt on the first play-off hole allowed Kisner to take full advantage and advance to the final where he went on to lose to fellow countryman Bubba Watson seven and six. Noren went on to seal third after defeating American Justin Thomas in the third place match five and three.
“I'm very pleased with the way I played,” said Noren. “It's been a long week and I’ve felt the pressure so I'm happy with my third place finish. Although I was very angry this morning after the loss because I really thought I had some great opportunities on the back nine to take the lead. It was one of the hardest losses probably ever for me but it wasn’t to be. Kevin rolled in some good putts so hats off to him.”
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat continued his superb form with a tied–fifth finish after losing out to eventual champion Bubba Watson five and three in the quarter finals. The ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth champion picks up 306,000 points to move from fifth into second on 959,160 in the Race to Dubai Rankings.
Englishman Ian Poulter and Australian Cameron Smith also finished tied-fifth after losing out to Kisner and Noren respectively . Both men received 306,000 points which propels Poulter from 122nd to 19th place with a season tally of 364,753 whilst Smith jumps from 31st to 12th on a total of 497,660.
Meanwhile, Spanish star Sergio Garcia and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton both lost out in the round of 16 to finish tied-ninth. The duo picked up 163,000 points which moves Garcia from 19th to 15th on 461,122 while Hatton stays in third place with a season tally of 902,700.
Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma remains top of the pile despite losing all three group matches. The Indian finished tied-59th to pick up 50,250 points which leaves him with a season total of 1,028,448.
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.