He has climbed 90 spots to ninth in the world rankings and chalked up five big wins in the past 12 months, yet Alex Noren is adamant that he is still flying under the radar.
”Yeah,” replied the Swede, pictured, without even a hint of hesitation when asked if that was the case, insisting he needs to start getting in the mix in majors to feel he has really arrived in the big time.
Others will argue, of course, that he is there already. That impressive world ranking, after all, has been earned by a string of high-profile title triumphs. Success in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart a year ago sparked a remarkable run of success for Noren.
The Omega European Masters, British Masters and Nedbank Challenge also fell to him last season and he backed up that brilliant burst by adding the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The inaugural Rolex Series event, he carded a closing 62 to overcome a seven-shot deficit heading into the final round.
On the back of all that, the 34-year-old certainly won’t go unnoticed at Dundonald Links this week as he defends his Scottish Open title, but, a bit like compatriot Henrik Stenson before he became Open champion, Noren feels he needs to do something really special to get himself on that radar. “I haven’t played as well as I wanted in majors,” he said. “In the past year, I’ve had my first big finishes in America in the WGC Match-Play and The Players, but it’s kind of easy to fly under the radar when you haven’t played well everywhere.”
Does that position actually suit him? “I haven’t always been the most confident and I’m still not the most confident on the golf course,” he added. “I want to improve things in my game. I’ve always kind of relied on my putting, and I don’t always want that to be the case.”
Is there an element of intimidation? “No not as much as before,” he replied. “But, when you look at players like Dustin Johnson and Thomas Pieters and see the distance they hit it off the tee – such a big part in today’s golf – that’s something I want to improve on.
“If I hit a good one, it’s around 300 yards. If they hit a good one, they hit it 320, 330, 340 and with accuracy. That’s very impressive.”