Copy My New Game Plan

Alex Noren got him­self into the world top 10 by shun­ning the range and tak­ing a unique ap­proach to his swing. He ex­plains how to copy his suc­cess...

Golf Asia (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHRIS BER­TRAM PHO­TOG­RA­PHY GETTY, NIKE, CALL­AWAY

Ten years ago, if you asked those in the know who had the best swings in the game, you’d get a list of the usual sus­pects led by Adam Scott and

Louis Oosthuizen. Those with a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the game in Europe might well have added the name of Alex Noren, too.

The Swede’s mo­tion wasn’t just ef­fort­lessly smooth and tech­ni­cally sound, it was also func­tional, serv­ing him very well as a suc­cess­ful am­a­teur and fledg­ling pro. But hid­ing be­neath the el­e­gance was tur­moil.

Noren was ob­sessed with grind­ing. He just loved long hours on the range – and didn’t know when to stop. Hardly a crime for a Tour pro, you might think – it has hardly done Vi­jay Singh any harm. But it was harm­ing Noren, in two ways. First, he de­vel­oped ten­dini­tis in his wrist, and re­quired surgery; he played in only two tour­na­ments in 2014. And se­condly, he was close to suf­fer­ing paral­y­sis by anal­y­sis. Hav­ing fol­lowed a largely up­ward curve from 2007 to 2011, with two wins that year, he stalled. Even be­fore his in­jury-rav­aged 2014, he’d had a poor 2013 by the stan­dards of a man seem­ingly on the rise. And we know golf is full of play­ers who came close to the sum­mit then stag­nated – and be­fore you know it, their name sur­pris­ingly turns up on a satel­lite tour.

Yet last year, you might re­call see­ing his name in the head­lines a lot. That’s be­cause the 34-year-old was the hottest player in Europe dur­ing the most im­por­tant part of the sea­son.

He won four times on the Euro­pean Tour to leap from 122 in the world in 2015 to ninth at the end of 2016. He is cur­rently eighth af­ter a solid Play­ers Cham­pi­onship de­but and a daz­zling win in the BMW PGA at Went­worth, per­for­mances that proved 2016 was no fluke.

His hot streak has rarely been wit­nessed in mod­ern times. It be­gan at July’s Scot­tish Open at Cas­tle Stu­art, and his form con­tin­ued when he got to the fi­nal of Paul Lawrie Match Play in early Au­gust. He then claimed Septem­ber’s Omega Euro­pean Masters and com­pleted his sum­mer of in­cred­i­ble suc­cess with the high-cal­i­bre Bri­tish Masters at The Grove. The Ned­bank Chal­lenge fol­lowed in Novem­ber. Hav­ing won four times in his first 215 Euro­pean

Tour events, Noren had claimed four ti­tles from 11 starts! It earned him his first Masters in­vi­ta­tion and marked him as a strong favourite to make his Ry­der Cup de­but in 2018, hav­ing missed out on the 2016 side de­spite be­ing the con­ti­nent’s most in-form player.

Then last month, he shot a clos­ing 62, the low­est round in BMW his­tory and his joint-low­est round ever, to storm through the field and win at Went­worth. Fif­teen greens in reg­u­la­tion and 24 putts led to eight birdies and an ea­gle for his fifth win since last July – only world No.1 Dustin John­son comes close to match it.

He has achieved it all us­ing an un­con­ven­tional method – and the ex­cit­ing news for all of us is not only that we can all eas­ily copy it, but also that it couldn’t be any less la­bo­ri­ous to im­ple­ment. In his own words, this is the un­usual route Noren took from quiet jour­ney­man to su­per­star...

The ten­dini­tis I suf­fered in my wrist was very frus­trat­ing and surgery was a last re­sort, but there was never a point where

I was con­sid­er­ing my whole fu­ture as a tour golfer. I was never re­ally wor­ried about play­ing again. I was quite re­al­is­tic, though

– I knew it was a long way back, but at the same time I knew if I worked hard, did the right things and went in the right di­rec­tion, I could play well again. I never doubted

that. When I was healed and able to start my come­back, I had to de­velop a slightly dif­fer­ent move­ment through the ball. But the big­gest change I made was in my prac­tice rou­tine, as I ex­plain in my five tips on this and the pre­vi­ous page.

I play com­pet­i­tive prac­tice rounds here and there, but not so much. I still play with my friends, but for fun. I thought I would lose my com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween tour­na­ments if I didn’t com­pete in ‘so­cial’ rounds. But I think we play enough com­pet­i­tive rounds in our ca­reers. In­stead, I work on im­prov­ing my shots in ‘so­cial’. I think copy­ing that could help any­one.

In my #1 ad­vice, I men­tion how the birth of my kid made a dif­fer­ence. The big proof to me that my men­tal­ity is now a lot dif­fer­ent was when I started win­ning last year I didn’t feel the same ex­cite­ment. Be­fore, it meant so much; ev­ery re­sult meant so much. Now it is more like “OK” and it just meant less to me. Be­cause I don’t care how it goes as much, I can fo­cus bet­ter on the im­por­tant things. It is not so life de­pen­dent and it sounds a bit like I don’t care, but I know when I am on the first tee I re­ally care. It’s just that af­ter a round I re­ally don’t care as much as I used to. Whether it is 70 or 65 or 75 doesn’t mat­ter like it used to.

Win­ning four times sur­prised me, though. It was not in my think­ing and it has been a lit­tle odd com­ing to tour­na­ments this year with peo­ple say­ing “you are ranked this and this”. I was never re­ally that guy be­fore so it put a lit­tle ex­tra pres­sure on my­self. It has helped that I now have had a lit­tle bit of suc­cess in Amer­ica. Be­fore, I wasn’t sure if I was ever good enough for Amer­ica be­cause, while the Euro­pean Tour is very strong, I am so much more com­fort­able on it, there­fore it is eas­ier to have suc­cess there. With more starts over in Amer­ica, I feel more com­fort­able now.

BMW PGA champ Alex Noren signed to wear Nike ap­parel and shoes at the start of 2017.

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