European Masters triumph provides Alex Noren with timely boost

Matt Fitzpatrick finished well over the weekend at the European Masters in Crans, Switzerland.
Matt Fitzpatrick finished well over the weekend at the European Masters in Crans, Switzerland.
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Sweden’s Alex Noren believes he is playing the best golf of his career after defeating Scott Hend in a play-off to win the Omega European Masters for the second time.

Noren birdied the first extra hole from 25 feet at Crans-sur-Sierre to claim his second European Tour title of the season and sixth of his career after he and overnight leader Hend had finished tied on 17-under.

Sweden's Alex Noren, winner of the European Masters Golf in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Picture: Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone/AP.

Sweden's Alex Noren, winner of the European Masters Golf in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Picture: Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone/AP.

England’s Andrew Johnston was three shots behind in third after a back nine of 30 in his 65, with Lee Westwood two strokes further back after a flawless closing 63.

Westwood, who was given a Ryder Cup wild card by European captain Darren Clarke on Tuesday, recorded seven birdies to surge through the field, but added: “It was a nice round of golf with a couple of missed putts in there as well and I didn’t birdie 14 going in with eight iron, so it could have been a 60 really.”

There was more good news for Clarke with two more of his team – Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Danny Willett – both shooting 64 to finish joint seventh and 12th respectively.

Fitzpatrick had only made the cut on level par with four birdies in his last five holes on Friday.

“It feels unbelievable,” said the 34-year-old Noren, who won the Scottish Open in July and will climb to a career-high world ranking inside the top 30.

“(I was) coming off a three-week vacation and trying to get the game in shape and it got in shape quickly – it’s fantastic.

“I’ve never won coming from behind and never won a play-off on the European Tour and it feels even more amazing. I never thought it would be this good of a year.

“I took some time off after we had a baby, it’s great to have the family with me here to celebrate.”

Asked if he was playing the best golf of his career, Noren added: “Yeah, I feel that way. I worked quite hard this season and tried to really play more golf when I’ve been off and not do so much practice on the driving range.

“I feel steadier with my driver, which has never been my good side.”