Alex Noren comes from 7 back to win French Open

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 01: Alex Noren of Sweden celebrates with the trophy after winning the HNA Open de France at Le Golf National on July 1, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) Warren Little/Getty Images

Alex Noren comes from 7 back to win French Open

Digital Edition

Alex Noren comes from 7 back to win French Open

PARIS – Consider Alex Noren as a potential major winner after his victory in the $7 million HNA French Open on Sunday.

Majors are by more often than not won by players who can grind it out on tough golf courses. Arguably no current European Tour player grinds as hard as the former Oklahoma State player. That much was obvious in the French capital.

The 35-year-old Swede came from seven shots behind 54-hole leader and countryman Marcus Kinhult to earn his 10th European Tour victory, and second Rolex Series event along with last year’s BMW PGA Championship.

Noren rebounded from opening rounds of 73 and 72 to post weekend numbers of 65 and 67 for a 7-under 277 to win by one over New York native Julian Suri, Scotland’s Russell Knox and Englishman Chris Wood. Knox, Suri and Kinhult received consolation prizes of spots in the British Open as the top three players in the top 10 not exempt for the year’s third major.

The smart money said either Jon Rahm or Sergio Garcia in the penultimate group would overhaul Kinhult from the top of the leaderboard. They were the headline acts in Paris along with World No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Thomas finished a respectable T-8 in his French Open debut with a 4-under 280 total. His main aim was getting to know Le Golf National ahead of his Ryder Cup debut. His message to Ryder Cup teammates?

“This place could easily host a major,” Thomas said. “I think it’s going to be a great venue for a Ryder Cup.

“It’s just a hard golf course. It’s very narrow. You have to hit the fairways to have birdie chances.’

That’s exactly the sort of golf Noren played over the weekend, the grind it out, one shot at a time, patient game needed to win on tough courses. While Kinhult was struggling to a 76 under the pressure of trying to win his first European Tour event, and Rahm and Garcia were missing fairways en route to over-par scores of 72 and 74 respectively, Noren was grinding out the win.

“You’ve got have a good mindset the whole time,” Noren said. “You will miss shots. You will hit in the rough. Just because you make a double or triple or something if you hit a bad shot, just keep going because it’s so tight and everybody will miss fairways and everybody will hit in the rough. You just have to be very, very patient.”

Noren is patience personified. He spent long hours on the range early in his career trying to find the perfect golf swing. He’s still Europe’s hardest worker, but he began winning tournaments in bunches when he realized he didn’t need to hit perfect shots every time. That attitude saw him win four times in 2016. He won last year’s BMW PGA Championship, arguably Europe’s biggest tournament outside the majors and WGCs.

Noren will take his grinder attitude to the same Le Golf National course this September when he makes his Ryder Cup debut. He started the week seventh on the Ryder Cup table, but moves to No. 1  ahead of Tyrrell Hatton.

Who wouldn’t want to make their Ryder Cup debut on a course they’ve won before? Certainly not the hard-working Swede.

“The first two years I came here, I thought, you know, I could never win around here,” Noren said. “The last three years I’ve had good results and it helps a lot. I think all of us golfers work that way. We like places that we played good on before.”

Don’t be surprised if Noren’s a major winner when he makes his Ryder Cup debut. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home