Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines - Sweden's Alex Noren is already a
winner at Le Golf National this year and that French Open triumph has boosted
his confidence ahead of his Ryder Cup debut this weekend on the same layout.
The 36-year-old from Stockholm joins Europe for the biennial
team showdown against the United States after winning the European Tour stop
near Paris on July 1, firing 65-67 on the weekend for a one-shot victory after
top-10 efforts in 2016 and 2017.
"Great to be back. Great memories," Noren said.
"It's different with the Ryder Cup, but it's nice to be at a course you've
played a lot of times.
"It's nice to be at a course where I've done well,
especially the last three years, and it gives me confidence. Like you don't
have to play maybe perfect shots all the time."
Knowing when to attack and when to accept what the course
allows will be crucial this week, said 18th-ranked Noren, whose wife Jennifer
is expecting their second child in December.
"This course is all about patience and I think it's an
unbelievable match-play course," Noren said. "There are a lot of
birdies out there, but you've got to hit great shots."
All 12 European players have competed at least once at Le
Golf National with Noren and 2017 French Open winner Tommy Fleetwood of England
among six to finish in the top three.
"I think it helps us be a little more confident, having
played a lot of rounds here, knowing how it plays, what pins and all that.
We've seen the whole place a lot of times," Noren said.
"As it's set up now, with a little bit softer fairways,
it's more definite what you have to do. Now it's more about looking in the
yardage book and finding out the flight of the drive because it's very
consistent how much the ball rolls."
Familiarity lets the Europeans match club to shot like a
fine wine with a good meal.
"You don't have to have as many practice rounds maybe
as when it's firm, but overall, I think it's nice to come to a course where you
know with this wind, it's this club," Noren said.
The Americans have only a combined eight competitive rounds
at the course ahead of Friday's start, half of those by Justin Thomas in an
eighth-place effort three months ago.
"It's softer fairways than in July," Noren said.
"Greens are about same firmness. Greens are rolling great. And the rough,
some of the really long stuff is gone, but it's a little bit greener, so it
probably emphasises even better shots off the tees."