Sweden’s Alex Noren moved into the world’s top 20 after holding his nerve at the British Masters to claim a remarkable third victory in his last eight events.
Noren carded a final round of 69 at The Grove to finish 18-under and two shots ahead of Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, with Worksop’s 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 – 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.
“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.
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, thanks largely to a second round of 82, but a closing 67 was enough to secure his best result since finishing runner-up to Danny Willett in the Masters.
“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,” said Westwood.
Elsewhere, Harrogate’s John Parry finished 11 shots off the lead after finishing with a round of 69. Sheffield’s Matthew Fitzpatrick was four shots further back.