Scottish Open champion Alex Noren backs '˜Super 6' event

Scottish Open champion Alex Noren is backing the 'joy of six' to make players and spectators fall in love with a new format being trialed for the first time on the European Tour in Australia this week.

Scottish Open winner Alex Noren of Sweden will be in Australia this week for the Super 6. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, which gets underway at Lake Karrinyup tomorrow, combines 54 holes of traditional stroke-play across the first three days before concluding with match-play ties on the final day.

Following a regular cut falling after 36 holes, the top 24 players after 54 holes will progress to the shoot-out stage, which will see matches played over six holes with a 90-yard hole having been created for sudden-death play-offs.

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“I think it’s nice that we try new things and I think it’s going to be nice for the crowds and nice for the TV viewers,” said world No 11 Noren, who is the highest-ranked player in a field that also includes former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. “Obviously it’s going to be pretty tough if a guy is leading by a lot and loses in the first match, but when we’re all here that’s what is expected.”

This week’s event is the first of two new formats being trialed by chief executive Keith Pelley on the European Tour this season. The inaugural GolfSixes, a two-man team tournament involving a series of short matches, has just been unveiled for early May at the Centurion Club, near St Albans.

“I think everything where the crowd experiences a new way for us pros to play the game is good,” added Noren. “I love watching the X Games on TV and stuff. And I guess if you’ve got a 90‑yard hole as a play-off hole, it’s going to be a lot more intense than a usual 90‑yard shot is. I think we should work out more ways to do this.”

The Swede has never really looked back since landing the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart last July, adding three more wins on the European Tour, including the Nedbank Challenge, part of the circuit’s end-of-season Final Series.

“I obviously feel a lot more pressure than I have before,” admitted the Swede of having shot up the world rankings. “But, when you play golf for a long time and you know where you’re at, you know what you have to do in order to play well.”

Oosthuizen is the de facto defending champion, having won the ISPS Handa Perth International last over the same course, where Thorbjorn Olesen claimed the same title in 2014. The Dane returns looking for further success Down Under, having also won the World Cup of Golf with Søren Kjeldsen in Melbourne at the end of last year.

Duncan Stewart, who also played in that event alongside Russell Knox, has made the long journey along with Scott Henry, the Scottish duo both looking to kick-start their seasons after failing to make a cut between them in five and four events respectively. “It has been a bit of a disappointing start to the year, but I feel I’m very much back on track,” insisted Stewart. “I fell back into some old bad habits with my swing around the World Cup time and it has taken a bit of time to iron them out. “I think this week has potential to be really exciting and I’m quite looking forward to it as it’s something different. If I’m honest, I’m not 100 per cent sure what is going to happen after the 54-hole cut, but I will worry about that when I get to Sunday. With the short match-play format anything can happen.”

Meanwhile, former chief executive George O’Grady has been appointed as a second European Tour Ambassador, joining Spaniard Angel Gallardo in that role. “Relationships are important to us and, as an Ambassador, George will be able to help the Tour as it develops its global footprint,” said European Tour chairman David Williams in announcing the 67-year-old’s appointment.