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Noren wins tenth European Tour title at Open de France

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Sweden's Alex Noren came from behind yet again to win his 10th European Tour title, and second Rolex Series event, at the Open de France at Le Golf National.

What happened at the Open de France? This all seems very familiar…

Alex Noren coming from seven shots behind in a Rolex Series event to win. Admittedly, this wasn’t a 62 at Wentworth, but the Swede posted a fine round of 67 to get into the clubhouse at seven-under-par and sat back as the closing stretch of holes at Le Golf National wreaked havoc on the final groups. Noren picked up a shot at the 12th and then made two superb birdies at 16 and 17 to close in a back-nine 32. The 35-year-old’s only dropped shot came at the 4th hole.

Compatriot Marcus Kinhult held the overnight advantage and started steadily, but the wheels soon started to fall off for the 21-year-old. Then it was advantage Julian Suri, who was five-under through 15 holes and entered the final hole with a one-shot lead at the time to Chris Wood. The American pulled his drive to narrowly avoid the hazard, but his approach was flared to the right and agonisingly found the water to end his chances.

And so the pressure was then on Wood. The Englishman, who has been out of form for a while now, only needed to par the final four holes to win – much easier said than done given that final stretch of holes are some of the most brutal in golf with water looming seemingly everywhere. A bogey at the 15th would draw him level with Noren, but another dropped shot at the 17th meant he needed to birdie the final hole to force a playoff. His approach found the bunker which he failed to hole-out from, and so he would be the second victim of the final daunting run of holes.

Kinhult, who started the day with a two-shot lead, made a superb par save on the 18th to finish in a tie for fifth, while Scotland’s Russell Knox went round in a bogey-free 65 to finish just a shot short of Noren.

It was a tough day for the Spanish duo of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. The latter opened with a triple-bogey after putting his ball in the water twice, but he battled back well to finish eighth alongside world No.2 Justin Thomas. Rahm, meanwhile, will be ruing his triple-bogey on the 12th where he had trouble getting out of the thick rough – he’d go on to finish tied for fifth.

Talking Point

Alex Noren has now all but locked in a Ryder Cup spot and he’ll be itching to make his debut in September on the course he’s just won at. Of course, Justin Thomas was on a scouting mission this week, and he’ll be pleased with his work in finishing tied for eighth.

The American team are the favourites, but Le Golf National clearly favours exceptional ball-striking which should play into the hands of the European side.

Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren will both be on the team this September, and both have won around this layout in the last two renewals. Francesco Molinari also has an incredible record at Le Golf National.

Will the Europeans’ course experience give them the advantage?

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