PARIS – Alex Noren is trying to win his 10th European Tour event in this week’s $7 million HNA French Open, but the former Oklahoma State player just can’t stop thinking about a certain match play event this September over the same course.
Noren stormed into contention with a third-round 65, 6 under, over Le Golf National, also venue for this year’s Ryder Cup. Earlier scores of 72 and 73 had him languishing in 41st place before he teed off at 10:30 a.m. local time in the company of Ireland’s Shane Lowry, nearly four hours before the final group of Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult and Chris Wood of England.
The 35-year-old Swede wasted no time shooting up the leaderboard with four birdies in his first seven holes. He birdied three of the first five holes on the back nine before a bogey at the 15th halted his progress.
“I was struggling to get close on the first two days, to get close to the pins, and it is a tricky golf course,” Noren said. “I hit it good off the tee today. Hit my irons and wedges a lot closer and got some early birdies. Kind of gets your momentum going a bit and otherwise it’s a very tricky golf course. You know there are so many holes coming up, but once you get a few birdies, it’s a different feeling.”
The World No. 16 is currently seventh on the Ryder Cup points table, with many expecting the Stockholm native to be one of the eight players to make Thomas Bjorn’s European team automatically. Even Noren can’t resist scrolling forward to Sept. 28 – when the 42nd Ryder Cup gets underway.
“I walk around out there thinking about what shots you could get if you get on the team, and it puts a little bit extra attention on you.” he said. “You feel what it could be like. There are so many shots that get your attention.”
He’ll certainly get more of Bjorn’s attention if he wins this week.