Room for improvement: Graeme MxcDowell targets Ballyliffin
Alex Noren will turn his attention to the Open Championship after staging a remarkable fightback to claim the HNA Open de France title.
Going into yesterday’s final round, the Swede found himself seven shots off the lead, but birdies at the 16th and 17th holes helped him card a 67 to set a target of seven-under-par which ultimately proved beyond the field at Le Golf National in Paris.
That completed a 10-under-par weekend for Noren, who saw American Julian Suri’s challenge dissolve when he found water with his second at the 18th and emerged with a double-bogey six.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell never recovered from his poor second round and shot a final round one over par 72 yesterday to finish tied for 37th place.
He will be looking to find the form which saw him open strongly in Paris when he arrives on more familiar surrounding for the Irish Open this week in Ballyliffin.
Winner Noren said: “On a course like this, anything can happen and I was just trying to get to six, seven, eight under. I thought that could get you into a play-off.
“The feeling of the birdie on 17, I really wanted that. You always want that and finally, I made one of those when it really matters.
“It’s unbelievable. I never thought I was going to win. It’s a tricky golf course. The first two days were really tough for me and I played a lot better on the weekend.
“It’s not the way you want to see your opponent come in, but we all fight our there and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I feel very happy right now.”
Noren’s second Rolex Series title could hardly be better timed with the Open less than three weeks away.
He said: “The Open has been the best major for me result-wise. I’m going to have a week and a half of good practice and see what I can do.”
Overnight leader Marcus Kinhult endured a difficult day as he shot a 76 to slip out of contention.
It was Scotland’s Russell Knox who took up the challenge, posting a 65 to get to six under, where he finished in a tie for second along with Suri and England’s Chris Wood.