Alex Noren hopes home crowd will cheer him to hat-trick in Sweden

Alex Noren gears up for the Scandinavian Invitation. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Alex Noren gears up for the Scandinavian Invitation. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
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Ryder Cup star Alex Noren is hoping a touch of football-style fervour can inspire him to complete a hat-trick of victories in the Scandinavian Invitation.

Noren won the event in 2011 and 2015 - when it was known as the Nordea Masters - and, although he did not play at Hills Golf & Sports Club last year, the Swede is looking forward to enjoying plenty of home support at the Gothenburg course.

“It’s great to be here, it’s a great set up,” the ten-time European Tour winner said. “We’ve always had big crowds and they support us very well. It’s more like a football game.

“It would be good to have a good finish, be up there on Sunday. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Noren admits the course has changed since he last played there almost a decade ago, but feels it will provide a tough test. “Your overall game you have to play quite well,” he added. “It’s tricky around the greens, it’s quite wet, so you’re going to get some tough lies, so you need to hit the green [and] fairways.

“It’s windy, you’ve got to manoeuvre the ball well and it seems like you’ve got to hit it pretty long off the tee because you don’t get any roll. It’s a mix of many courses, but it’s down to the whole game.”

England’s Paul Waring will defend the title he won last year by beating South Africa’s Thomas Aiken in a play-off. “I keep being reminded of it,” Waring said of his maiden European Tour win. “We shared a car in today and I was speaking to a few of the lads and we were talking about a few of the memories.

“I’ve drawn on those memories for most of this season, especially on the weekend. I feel like I’m very comfortable under pressure. I almost need that little bit of pressure to perform.

“The weeks where I’m quite flat are the weeks where I don’t perform. When I get into the mix I feel like I can keep going.”

World No 30 Matt Fitzpatrick is the highest-ranked player in the field and will play the first two rounds alongside local favourites Henrik Stenson and Marcus Kinhult.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has questioned both the radical new format and the focus on the $15million (£12.3m) first prize at this week’s season-ending tour championship.From this year, the player with the most FedEx Cup points after the BMW Championship starts the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta on a score of ten under par, in this case Justin Thomas. The second-highest points earner will begin at eight under, the third-ranked player at seven, and so on.

McIlroy starts on five under, so could beat Thomas by four shots over 72 holes and still finish behind the former world No 1 . “If the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said. “I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage, but I don’t know... Come back to me on Monday and I’ll tell you if it has worked or not.”

Speaking about the prize money, McIlroy added: “Who knows what the winner wins at the Masters? I don’t know, because that’s not what it’s about. The money’s great but I’ll get more satisfaction from winning the golf tournament and playing well.”

l Seventeen-year-old Connor McKinney is the only Scot in Great Britain & Ireland’s nine-strong team for the Jacques Leglise Trophy against the Continent of Europe. The match takes place at Aldeburgh Golf Club in England on Friday 23rd and Saturday 30th. The GB&I team won the trophy in Finland last year.