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Alex Noren wins Nedbank as Holman slips outside top 60

Noren with yet another trophy (Photo: Getty Images)
Sweden’s Alex Noren joined the battle to win the Race to Dubai and confirmed his status as the world’s most in-form golfer, along with perhaps Hideki Matsuyama, after the Swede claimed a fourth European Tour title of the season at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The 34 year old’s six-shot triumph over Korea’s Jeunghun Wang means he overtakes Rory McIlroy in third place in the Race to Dubai and will move inside the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking, having been in 110th position just five months ago after his incredible run of success on the European Tour.

Noren birdied the opening three holes to pile the pressure on Wang, who carried a three-stroke advantage into the final day at Gary Player Country Club but stumbled to a one over par front nine while Noren reached the turn in six under par.

Noren continued his unbeatable level of performance with an eagle at the tenth followed by a birdie at the 11th and, although he dropped his first shot of the day at the 14th, he birdied the 16th and eased home with two pars to sign for a nine under par 63 and a 13 under total.

Wang may have dropped three strokes in the closing four holes, but his final round of 75 guaranteed him second place outright, moving to 15th in the Race to Dubai and into pole position to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award with just one event of the 2016 season remaining. Five players shared third spot – Alejandro Cañizares, Victor Dubuisson, Branden Grace, Ricardo Gouveia and Andy Sullivan, with Gouveia and Dubuisson making enough points to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

The battle to be crowned European Tour Number One is once again ebbing toward a dramatic finale at the DP World Tour Championship, with Henrik Stenson still at the summit after finishing eighth in Sun City, while second-placed Danny Willett rallied to finish in a share of 11th place to keep his hope of leapfrogging Stenson in his own hands with a victory in Dubai.

A fifth victory of the season for Noren in Dubai would need to be supplemented by Stenson finishing in third place or worse for Noren to be crowned Europe’s Number One, while McIlroy needs to successfully defend the DP World Tour Championship and rely on a series of unlikely scenarios to retain the Race to Dubai title.

“It's unbelievable,” said Noren. “Waking up today, I thought if I can get a decent round in I might have a chance but it didn't feel very good yesterday my game wasn't really there. I tried to get the right feelings for today and it clicked. I don't think I've ever played as good, especially on the greens.

“I’ve got a lot more confidence, having the lead and being up there, and the more you do that the more comfortable you become. Obviously it's been the season of my life. I tried to get in this tournament for so many years, and when I got in here, to end up winning, it feels unbelievable.

“I was quite nervous coming into this round, playing with Stenson and playing with Grace, in front of a lot of people. And then after starting off the way I did I told myself, "You've got to believe you can win this," and I kept hitting fairways and greens and making the putts and, all of a sudden, I had a great chance which I managed to take.”

Scott Hend led the three Australians in the field when he finished 45th while Marcus Fraser was 53rd and Nathan Holman was forced to withdraw which would create a double blow for Holman in that he has slipped outside the leading 60 players in the Race to Dubai and will now miss out on a start at the season ending DP World Tour Dubai this week.

Hend and Fraser are however assured of a start in Dubai.  

 

 

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