Master Alex Noren holds nerve to win again

Sweden’s Alex Noren moved into the world’s top 20 after holding his nerve to claim a remarkable third victory in his last eight events at the British Masters.

Master Alex Noren holds nerve to win again

Noren carded a final round of 69 at The Grove to finish 18 under par and two shots ahead of Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, with Lee Westwood a stroke further back in third.

Ranked 110th in the world after missing the cut in the Irish Open in May, Noren will be 18th in today’s updated standings after adding yesterday’s triumph — and the first prize of £500,000 (€553,000) — to victories in the Scottish Open and European Masters.

“It’s very unreal,” said the 34-year-old, who only played two events in 2014 due to career-threatening wrist injuries. “I never thought about this going into this season.

“I just worked quite hard and sometimes you get lucky like this. You have to hit the right shots at the right times and I’m very happy. I believe in myself, but the big thing is you don’t have to play a perfect game. Just a few parts of your game need to be strong to get a win and I try to stay humble. I know golf is a tough game.”

Noren, whose win made certain of a Masters debut at Augusta next April, took a three-shot lead into the final round and birdied the first two holes, only for playing partner Richard Bland to do likewise.

Bland’s bogey on the seventh left Noren four clear, but the Monaco-based Swede then bogeyed the eighth as Bland holed from 50 feet across the green for an unlikely birdie.

Noren’s lead was down to a single shot when he bogeyed the 11th and Wiesberger briefly joined Noren in top spot with a birdie on the par-five 15th, only for Noren to do likewise in the group behind.

With Wiesberger unable to birdie the par-five 18th Noren only needed a par to win, but a superb pitch to two feet set up a closing birdie.

“Unfortunately this was not quite my week on the greens, but to finish well in a strong field like this helps going into the final couple of events this year,” Wiesberger said.

“I would have loved to squeeze another birdie in there, give him something to think about coming up the last. But I’m still very happy with my performance.”

Westwood feels he let down good friend and Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke after failing to win any of his three matches as Europe suffered their heaviest defeat for 35 years at Hazeltine.

The 43-year-old then missed the cut in last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but a closing 67 was enough to secure his best result since finishing runner-up to Danny Willett in the Masters.

“Obviously I think everybody was disappointed with the Ryder Cup and the Dunhill was a bit of a relapse from that, really,” said Westwood, who takes over from Luke Donald as tournament host next year, with Close House in Northumberland expected to be the venue. “This week everything was back together again so I’m looking forward to the end of the season and to some big events coming up.”

Bland, who was seeking a first European Tour title at the 395th attempt, dropped shots on the 16th and 17th and had to settle for a five-way tie for fourth alongside Graeme McDowell, Alexander Levy, Peter Hanson and Tommy Fleetwood.

The 43-year-old has now recorded seven top-10 finishes in by far the best season of his career, but said: “It’s tough. I thought with six holes to play it was anybody’s.”

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