Open de France: Alexander Noren claims victory

Golf
Alexander Noren celebrates in France
Alexander Noren celebrates in France

Alexander Noren won the Open de France at Le Golf National following a final-day round of 67.

Final leaderboard

-7 Alexander Noren

-6 Russell Knox, Julian Suri, Chris Wood,

-5 Marcus Kinhult, Jon Rahm, Matthew Southgate

Fourth round

Going into Sunday's final round the Swede found himself seven shots off the lead, but birdies at the 16th and 17th holes helped him card a 67 to set a target of seven-under-par, which ultimately proved beyond the field at Le Golf National in Paris.

That completed a 10-under-par weekend for Noren, who saw American Julian Suri's challenge dissolve when he found water with his second at the 18th and emerged with a double-bogey six.

He told Sky Sports: "On a course like this, anything can happen and I was just trying to get to six, seven, eight under. I thought that could get you into a play-off.

"The feeling of the birdie on 17, I really wanted that. You always want that and finally, I made one of those when it really matters.

"It's unbelievable. I never thought I was going to win. It's a tricky golf course. The first two days were really tough for me and I played a lot better on the weekend.

"It's not the way you want to see your opponent come in, but we all fight our there and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I feel very happy right now."

Noren's second Rolex Series title could hardly be better timed with the Open less than three weeks away.

He said: "The Open has been the best major for me result-wise. I'm going to have a week and a half of good practice and see what I can do."

Overnight leader Marcus Kinhult endured a difficult day as he shot a 76, which included a seven at the fourth, to slip out of contention.

It was Scotland's Russell Knox who took up the challenge, posting a 65 to get to six under, where he finished in a tie for second along with Suri and England's Chris Wood.

Wood's compatriot Matthew Southgate's 65 took him to within a shot of the trio along with Kinhult and Spaniard Jon Rahm.

However, Sergio Garcia's hopes effectively evaporated after a seven on the first and although he recovered his composure to claim five birdies, three bogeys and a double at the last left him in a tie for eighth on four under.

If Knox, Suri and Kinult missed out on the big prize, they were at least able to console themselves with qualification for the Open.

Third round

Chris Wood produced one of the comebacks of the season to keep himself in contention on day three of the HNA Open de France, but he will have to overcome formidable opposition if he is to win his first Rolex Series event on Sunday.

The Englishman entered Saturday two shots behind leader Marcus Kinhult in Paris and that is where he ended it, although he needed a remarkable run of form around the turn to sign for a 67 and get to eight under.

A double-bogey on the fourth and a bogey on the fifth sent Wood tumbling down the leader board, but the 30-year-old picked up eight shots in his next 10 holes, with the help of a chip-in eagle on the ninth, to find himself just one off the lead.

A bogey on the last took some of the gloss off his surge through the field, and Wood was left looking over his shoulder as well as up at Kinhult, with 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia just one shot behind him.

World number five Jon Rahm was then at six under, two shots clear of world number two Justin Thomas.

"A lot of players might let that get to them, three over through five, but I felt like I was hitting pretty good shots," Wood told www.europeantour.com.

"A couple behind going into tomorrow. Same sort of approach and attitude tomorrow and see where it gets me."

Kinhult chipped in for birdie on the first and then made a double-bogey after going in the water on the next, but five birdies in a row from the fifth handed him a five-shot lead before he came home in level par.

"It was a bit of a shaky start, but then I just hit some good shots and felt better and better throughout the round," he said. "The momentum kind of kept me going in there so that's good."

Garcia made four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back before finding water to drop a shot on the last, while Rahm had a birdie-birdie finish in his 68.

Thomas had five birdies and three bogeys in his round to sit alongside fellow American Julian Suri.

Second round report

Marcus Kinhult: The Swedish golfer takes aim at Open de France
Marcus Kinhult: The Swedish golfer takes aim at Open de France

Marcus Kinhult produced a brilliant performance to open up a two-shot lead heading into day three of the HNA Open de France in Paris.

Le Golf National will play host to the Ryder Cup in September and windy conditions and punishing rough meant that a field containing world number two Justin Thomas and world number five Jon Rahm were handed a tough test over the first two days.

Thomas and Rahm produced back-to-back under par rounds to ensure they were well in contention heading into the weekend but it was Kinhult who stole the show, carding a 65 to get to six under and lead the way by two shots from England's Chris Wood.

The 21-year-old Swede produced a flawless front nine, adding an eagle on the par five third to birdies on the second, fourth, seventh and ninth as he turned in 30. He made bogeys on the 13th and 17th but each time bounced back with a gain to keep his nose in front.

"It feels good, it feels really good," he told www.europeantour.com. "I got off to a great start and played well from there. The wind picked up a little bit on the back nine, the last four or five holes or so, but happy overall.

"Saturday is going to be a big day and hopefully Sunday as well. It's a position I have never been in before so we'll see."

Wood is attempting to make his second consecutive European Ryder Cup team and some course form will do his chances no harm, as he recovered from bogeys on the 10th and 11th with birdies on the 14th, 15th, 18th, second and ninth.

Rahm carded a 69 to sit at three under alongside Welshman Bradley Dredge, a shot clear of Thomas, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, local favourite Gregory Havret and American Julian Suri.

English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Jordan Smith, Ireland's Paul Dunne and Scot Russell Knox were five shots off the lead.

First round report

Bradley Dredge in action
Bradley Dredge in action

Bradley Dredge shot 67 to take a one-shot lead at a blustery Open de France at Le Golf National, with two-time winner Graeme McDowell right on his tail.

High winds made scoring tough at the Paris venue that will play host to September's Ryder Cup and it was Welshman Dredge who mastered the conditions to get to four under and lead the way.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is a two-time winner of this event and he was a shot off the lead alongside in-form Englishman Andy Sullivan, a man with four top-10 finishes in his last five events.

Dredge - who lost his European Tour card last season and is looking for a first win since 2006 - recovered from an opening bogey with birdies on the 13th, 14th, 17th, third and fifth to post his score before the higher winds arrived for the later starters.

"It was getting tougher and tougher out there," he told www.europeantour.com. "Obviously delighted with that score to start the tournament off.

"Got off to a bad start on 10 with a poor tee-shot and made bogey but after that, to remain bogey-free, very pleased with that."

McDowell has been named as a vice-captain for Thomas Bjorn's European team in the autumn but still harbours hopes of having a playing role and he carded seven birdies and four bogeys on Thursday.

Sullivan recorded five birdies and two dropped shots to sit alongside McDowell, a shot ahead of South African Dean Burmester, Swede Robert Karlsson and Belgian Thomas Pieters.

English pair James Morrison and Chris Wood were in a group at one under that also included Ireland's Shane Lowry, world number two Justin Thomas and world number five Jon Rahm.

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