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Noren retains lead at Scottish Open

Noren - leads by two (Photo: Getty Images )
Alexander Noren put on a masterful display to take a two-shot lead after day three of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, overcoming the rainy conditions late in the day at Castle Stuart to finish with a pair of birdies and sign for a four under par 68.

Playing in the last group of the day, the Swede was the picture of composure in the heavy rain and, after a one under front nine, his round took flight with a birdie at the tenth before some superlative iron play earned him three more birdies – including a tap-in two at the par three 17th – and a 12 under total.

Breathing down his neck on ten under par are Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who signed for a six under par 66 as he chases a maiden European Tour title, and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, the 23 year old showing a return to the kind of form which earned him four titles on the top tier.

New Zealander Danny Lee shares fourth place with South Africa’s Justin Walters on nine under par, while Northern Irish Major winner Graeme McDowell is a shot further back alongside three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan of England.

Leading Scot Richie Ramsay, who is a stroke further back alongside German two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer and five others, will be one of the many players harbouring hopes of snatching one of the four Open Championship qualification spots on offer this week for those not already exempt.

“I’m very happy,” said Noren. “The last nine was very tough. But when you think that there are not that many brutal holes - it's just that the easier holes get tougher, the medium holes get tougher - it's really just about staying dry.“The course played pretty much the same though. It stayed dry, and maybe another course would have flooded.

"So it's pretty nice to play on these surfaces in this weather.“I think a two-club wind tomorrow would be fun for everybody, to dry off the course a little bit. Because then you're going to see a lot of birdies and a few bogeys here and there. I think it's going to be fun.

"I like a little bit of wind but I don't prefer the rain. “It would be a huge win for me. And in terms of ranking points, the biggest. So that's what I'm trying to do, to win. I'd love to get a little bit higher in the rankings so I can get in the bigger tournament.”

"Scott Hend improved on his second round of 73, producing a two under 70 today to be in a share of 23rd position and the leading Australian while Andrew Dodt is 71st.


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