Noren keeps his cool in play-off to secure second Swiss success

Alex Noren kisses the silverware following his play-off success against Australias Scott Hend. Picture: Getty

Alex Noren kisses the silverware following his play-off success against Australias Scott Hend. Picture: Getty

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Swede Alex Noren defeated
Australia’s Scott Hend in a play-off to win the Omega European Masters for the 
second time after a dramatic finish at Crans-sur-Sierre.

Noren, who won the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in July before losing in the final of the Paul Lawrie Match Play at Archerfield Links a few weeks later, birdied the first extra hole from 25 feet to claim his second European Tour title of the season and sixth of his career after the pair had finished tied on 17-under-par.

England’s Andrew Johnston finished three shots behind in third, with Lee Westwood two strokes further back after celebrating securing his tenth straight Ryder Cup appearance earlier in the week with a flawless closing 63.

“It feels amazing to be among Seve Ballesteros and Thomas Bjorn to win two Omega European Masters titles. I’ve seen the boards showing who won multiple Omega European Masters titles walking to the course so it is great,” admitted Noren.

Aided by a brilliant front nine of 30 which included four birdies in a row, 2009 champion Noren overturned a one-shot overnight deficit to lead by two with four holes to play.

However, Hend reduced his deficit to a single shot with a birdie on the 15th and, when Noren three-putted the 17th from long range, the pair were tied for the lead with one to play.

It was advantage Noren when he split the fairway after Hend hooked his tee shot into the trees, but the 43-year-old took on the brave recovery shot and was rewarded when his approach pitched ten yards short of the green and bounced over the water, just as Noren’s had done on Saturday.

Hend got up and down from the back of the green for par and, when Noren could not convert a long birdie attempt, the pair returned to the 18th for the first hole of sudden death.

After again hooking his drive into the trees but seeing the ball bounce across the fairway, Hend only just cleared the water with his approach before chipping to five feet, but Noren made certain of the win by holing his long birdie attempt.

“I’m coming off a three-week vacation and trying to get the game in shape and it got 
into shape quite quickly so it is fantastic,” added Noren. “There were a tough couple of guys hunting me today but I’m 
happy I won.”

David Drysdale finished as top Scot in joint-12th – his best performance of the season. Having catapulted himself up the leaderboard with a 64 on Saturday, the 40-year-old from Cockburnspath closed with a 69 for a nine-under-par total. In picking up a cheque for just over £34,000, he has moved to 87th in the Race to Dubai, giving some elbow room heading into the final few weeks of the regular 
season.

Elsewhere, Duncan Stewart cemented his top-15 position in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman by finishing joint-fifth behind Spaniard Alvaro Velasco in the Cordon Golf Open in Pleneuf. Stewart, a winner in Madrid earlier in the year, was a shot off the lead at one point in the final round before Velasco produced a title-winning burst as he closed with an eight-under-par 62.

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