Reigning champ Alex Noren's honeymoon in golfing heaven

Alex Noren will combine his honeymoon with defending his Omega European Masters title as he seeks a seventh European Tour victory in little more than two years.

Defending Champion Alex Noren of Swedenhits a tee shot during the pro-am prior to the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Defending Champion Alex Noren of Swedenhits a tee shot during the pro-am prior to the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Noren married fiancee Jennifer recently and admits the arrival of their first child early last year was partly responsible for his brilliant run of form.

The 35-year-old’s second Nordea Masters victory in 2015 was his first tournament success for four years, but the Swede claimed four more titles in 2016 and won the BMW PGA Championship in May after a stunning final round of 62 at Wentworth.

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“I still love golf but when you have a kid and family you prioritise them more than when you’re single or you have a girlfriend and you can play a lot,” said Noren, renowned as one of the game’s hardest workers.

“I was playing maybe too much, practising too much and after a while I could over-practise and get mentally tired. Now I feel more fresh when I get to tournaments.”

Noren has at least chosen a brilliant venue for his working honeymoon, with Crans-sur-Sierre in the Swiss Alps one of the most picturesque courses on the European Tour.

“This is our honeymoon, it’s beautiful,” the world No 12 added. “Maybe we’ll have a real honeymoon later on, but it’s a beautiful place to come to.

“I’ve always liked it here and I think everybody who’s ever played here thinks it’s one of the most beautiful courses and places in the world. We have a year-and-a-half-old kid but to get married is special still. I didn’t think it was going to be as special a feeling as it was but we had a great day with all the friends and a few golfers.”

Despite his recent success, the timing of most of his victories meant Noren did not qualify for the 2016 Ryder Cup, with last year’s play-off victory over Scott Hend coming just days after the European team for Hazeltine was finalised.

Qualifying for next year’s contest in Paris got under way last week and Noren added: “It would be something special but you’ve got to look at each tournament and it’s a long way there yet. I’ll try to just improve my game and if I get in, I get in.

“Winning is very tough and you need to have your whole game in place. I’m happy with this season in that I managed to play good at some events that I’ve never played good at. I’m playing a little bit better in America than in the past so it’s not all about the wins. You just try to play well against good fields and I feel I’ve done that this year. We’ll see how it goes but I’m trying my best.”

Noren will play the first two rounds alongside 1999 champion Lee Westwood and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, with Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood in the same group as 2015 winner Danny Willett and Ross Fisher.

Fleetwood, who has won twice this season but has not played since last month’s US PGA Championship, said: “I’m enjoying being back, I feel like I’m hitting it quite good.

“Three weeks off is not that long a time but in terms of how much time we get off a year, it is. We’ll see how it goes.

“It’s never physical fitness that gets to anybody but it’s mental tiredness playing week in, week out so it’s nice when you can turn up to tournaments feeling as fresh as you can after a rest.”

Westwood will be making his 500th European Tour appearance this week and the 44-year-old is seeking a 24th victory on the circuit on the back of a top-10 finish in the Czech Masters.

“It’d be the cherry on the cake to win this week and I did play well last week so I’m starting to feel like a few of the old swing thoughts are coming back and I’m feeling more comfortable on the greens,” the former world No 1 said.

“I’m coming back to a course that I enjoy playing so I’m fairly confident I might be in with a chance on Sunday.

“I’m pretty fortunate that it’s been a job that’s paid pretty well and has given me and my family a good lifestyle. I’ve been on the European Tour when it has grown and gone from strength to strength, and it’s flourishing now.”