Alexander Noren played himself into contention at the Alfred Dunhill Championship with what he described as his “best golf of the year”, but the Swede also had the added help of a little local knowledge in the form of a seasoned St Andrews caddie.
Playing at Kingsbarns Golf Links for the third round of the unique Pro-Am event, Noren had the input of David Meldrum, who for six years caddied at the very same venue before moving on to St Andrews where he carries for around 200 rounds a year for the multitude of golfing tourists that continue to flock to the Home of Golf.
“He knows the lines, where to come in from, so he's helped out a lot and gave me some good lines,” said three-time European Tour Champion Noren. “With his experience he knows all the slopes. It's nice for me to have that help and he’s obviously delighted too.”
Noren got off to a flying start with a birdie at the second before a pin-point five wood approach to the third green set up a five foot eagle. Further birdies followed at the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth holes to see the 30 year old turn in 29 before a level par back nine saw him sign for a seven under par 67 and a share of third place heading into Sunday’s final round.
“Everything just seemed so easy early on,” he continued. “I played great on the front nine, played okay on the back, but I just didn't get as close as I did on the front. It's a little bit tougher on the back as well.”
In what was a low scoring affair in Thursday’s first round, Noren exploited Meldrum’s deep knowledge of the Old Course to post an eight under par 64 – a total that the local caddie would conceivably see doubled by the paying customers he usually carries for – before finishing with a solid level par 72 on Friday at the always-testing Carnoustie.
Noren said: “Carnoustie is not that easy and you've got to play really well to shoot low there. So I came back with level par from there – which I was happy about – and then today I knew it was easier but I played probably the best I've played for the whole year on the front nine this morning.”
Despite his impressive efforts that saw ‘Moving Day’ live up to its name, Noren will begin his final round five shots behind run-away leader Braden Grace, who further solidified his position at the top with a fine three under par 69 at Carnoustie on Saturday, but the Stockholm born man insisted that “it wasn’t over until it’s over”.
“Well, there's always a chance around St Andrews,” he reflected. “You get it going and we'll see what the weather is like. If I can post a strong one on the front nine, I may have a chance, you never know.”