Cape Town - Alex Noren spent years dreaming of playing in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, and in a dream season for the Swede he won “Africa’s Major” with a magnificent final round of 63 at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday.
Noren, as he has been for much of this European Tour season, was in a class of his own as he played his way to a six-shot victory on 14-under-par 274.
This is his fourth European Tour victory in a season that also saw him finish runner-up once and in the top 10 a further three times.
South Korea’s Jeunghun Wang took second place on eight under par following a final round of 75.
Branden Grace finished as the leading South African in a share of third place on seven under par.
The 34-year-old Noren first recalls watching the Nedbank Golf Challenge “about 15 years ago”.
“It’s unbelievable. I tried to get in this tournament so many years, and when I got in here, to end up winning, it feels unbelievable,” he said.
Noren was six shots behind leader Wang at the start of the day, and some mental preparation in his room before the final round had him believing a low round was possible.
“Waking up, I thought if I can get a decent round I’ll be in it. I did some work in the room and just 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.”
He went out in 30 and then went into the back nine with an eagle and birdie on 10 and 11 as Wang capitulated with a double bogey on the front nine and then a run of four bogeys in his final six holes.
Noren explains his incredible form this season as the result of becoming a father. “That put golf into perspective for me. I think before I was overthinking it. Now I couldn’t practice as much, but I became more relaxed,” he said.
“Obviously it’s been the season of my life.”
The South African challenge seemed to rest with Louis Oosthuizen at the start of the round, but he closed with a 75 to finish ninth on five under.
Grace was the leading South African this year, but was disappointed to finish with a bogey at the last which saw him drop from sole third into a share of this with four other players.
scores after final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the par-72,
7,161-metre (7,831-yard) Gary Player Country Club in Sun City Sunday:
274 - Alex Noren (SWE) 69-67-75-63
280 - Wang Jeunghun (KOR) 68-73-64-75
281 - Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 71-68-74-68, Victor Dubuisson (FRA)
69-75-69-68, Ricardo Gouveia (POR) 74-68-72-67, Branden Grace (RSA)
71-69-71-70, Andy Sullivan (ENG) 72-69-68-72
282 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 69-74-69-70
283 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 72-66-70-75
284 - Jaco van Zyl (RSA) 69-69-74-72
285 - Raphaël Jacquelin (FRA) 74-72-72-67, Danny Willett (ENG) 75-74-67-69
286 - David Lingmerth (SWE) 71-72-73-70
287 - Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 75-72-71-69, Joost Luiten (NED) 74-70-74-69
288 - Bradley Dredge (WAL) 73-69-75-71, Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
76-71-70-71, Soren Kjeldson (DEN) 74-71-71-72, Fabricio Zanotti (PAR)
292 - Andew Johnston (ENG) 75-73-73-71
294 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 74-76-68-76
295 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 81-75-69-70
298 - Padraig Harrington (IRL) 76-75-75-72