By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) – A barnstorming 10-under-par 62 propelled Swede Alexander Noren to a course record as he romped to a come-from-behind two-stroke victory in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday.
The world number 13, who started the final round of the European Tour’s flagship event seven shots off the pace, galloped through the field with four birdies on the front nine.
Noren also blitzed his way to a birdie hat-trick from the 12th. He picked up another stroke at the 16th and then delivered a majestic five-iron approach to four feet on the last before sparking huge roars from the crowd by sinking his putt for an eagle three.
“That was probably my best ever,” the 34-year-old said of a round that secured the biggest victory of his career. “It’s a tough course mentally coming down the stretch.
“It’s not super narrow but it’s just if you hit it a little bit wayward it can cost you and I putted probably the best I’ve ever putted,” added Noren after finishing with an 11-under total of 277.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari (68) took second place on 279, one ahead of Swede Henrik Stenson (68), at number five the highest-ranked player in the field, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts (65) and Hideto Tanihara of Japan (68).
Scores tumbled on Sunday as the strong winds of Friday and Saturday gave way to calm conditions and plenty of rounds in the mid-60s on a course that had a multi-million-dollar revamp following last year’s tournament.
The day began in bright sunshine before the weather suddenly turned midway through the afternoon, forcing the later starters to contend with driving rain.
Noren, who had four victories in a spectacular season last year, picked up a cheque for $1.16 million as he claimed his ninth tour win.
“This is probably the happiest moment ever,” said the red-hot Swede after earning his fifth tour victory in 17 appearances. “I wasn’t thinking much of the deficit, I was just trying to play a good round of golf.
“I felt I had a lot of adrenaline the whole round. It’s a nice feeling to have.”
Noren said he was given extra motivation after ending his third round with a double-bogey seven.
“I finished the last hole yesterday very bad and I was pretty angry,” he explained.
“I took a long rest and tried to just have a good day. I came out holing birdie putts on one and two… and I was close on three too.”
Noren is third on the all-time list of Swedish winners in Europe, behind Stenson and Robert Karlsson who both have 11.
South African Branden Grace, the joint overnight leader alongside Andrew Dodt of Australia, saw his victory hopes disappear when he trailed Noren by two shots with seven holes remaining.
Evoking memories of Frenchman Jean van der Velde’s infamous collapse in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie, world number 26 Grace tried to hack his ball out of a ditch but plunged to a double-bogey seven after leaving it in the water.
(Editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar)