The Mercury

Noren coasts to victory in Wales

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NEWPORT: Sweden’s Alex Noren won the Wales Open by two strokes yesterday to claim his second European Tour victory.

The second and thirdround leader was never threatened as he closed with a oneunder 70 for a nine-under 275 total, two better than Dane Anders Hansen and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.

Although Noren hardly got into top gear over the first nine holes in soaking conditions at Celtic Manor, his rivals never looked like catching him.

He had built a four-shot lead by the 12th before making a rare mistake when finding a hazard on the 15th. A bogey when playing partner Hansen birdied, though, merely reduced his margin of a victory.

Noren’s only other title came in the 2009 European Masters in Switzerlan­d and the 28-year-old from Stockholm explained why it had taken so long to win again.

“Last year was testing what I needed to do with my game,” he said. “This year I’ve tried to improve my whole game. This is the result.”

He tees off in the 36-hole British Open qualifier at Sunningdal­e this morning.

Noren will hope to emulate the feat of Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell who won in Wales last year and went on to clinch the US Open at Pebble Beach. After his calamitous 81 of Saturday, McDowell finished 12 shots back.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson (72) tied for fourth place, three behind Noren, along with compatriot Johan Edfors, Argentinia­n Ricardo Gonzalez and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.

Briton Elliot Saltman holed in one for a second time during the week at the same hole, the 17th. – Reuters

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