Stunning 63 puts Noren 11 clear

Alex Noren looks set to run away with the Nordea Masters after his stunning, course record 63 at Bro Hof Stott on Saturday.

Alex Noren looks set to run away with the Nordea Masters after smashing the course record at Stockholm’s Bro Hof Stott on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Swede posted a spectacular seven-birdie, one-eagle 9-under 63 in Saturday’s third round to surge to a 20-under 196 total that put him an astonishing 11 shots in front of the closest of his distant pursuers, American star Bubba Watson who was alone in second place on 9-under after posting a 3-under 69.

Noren’s Saturday heroics in his native Stockholm not only knocked two shots off the old course record, it also ensured that he was able to match the second largest 54-hole lead in European Tour history.

Only Retief Goosen, who was 13 shots clear at the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic, has been further ahead with one round left to play.

And the history books will have to be rewritten again if anyone is to deny Noren his second title of the season and his third overall.

For nobody has ever come from more than ten behind to win in the final round of a European Tour event and it’s not surprising that the flying Swede found it hard to describe his feelings to the media afterwards.

He said: “It’s hard to sink in. I’ve never dreamt of playing like this here, I just thought if I made the cut I would be happy this week – so 20-under is better than I can imagine.

“It was an amazing feeling. I never thought it would be possible to shoot these scores. Every shot went the way I wanted – I don’t know what to say – I’m just so happy to play like this.”

Noren, the overnight leader, started the day three ahead of India’s Shiv Kapur and for a brief spell found himself under pressure as the big-hitting Watson birdied his first three holes.

But from the moment Noren nailed his first birdie of the day from six feet at the fifth, there was just no stopping the Saab Wales Open champion.

His confidence soared and his next approach plopped down on the green just a foot from the hole for birdie No 2.

A majestic long iron at the par five ninth then left the charging Swede with a two foot eagle putt he was never going to miss.

Four more birdie putts rolled off his putter at tenth, the 12th, 13th and 15th holes and if he was any doubt that he was in a vary special zone, conformation came with his seventh birdie at the 18th.

Things didn’t look so good when he hit his drive under some temporary spectator stands, but after a free drop and a magnificent approach shot to six feet, he was able to add a birdie just moments after Watson had lost ground with a double bogey.

That birdie took the World No 92 to a 20-under total after three rounds on the same course where the winning 72-hole total last year was only 11-under – but then again, that would have been a perfectly respectable total if Noren wasn’t playing the kind of golf he has been doing.

Watson was certainly impressed with it, comparing Noren’s performance to that of Rory McIlroy at the recent US Open.

“He’s playing so good right now, its like McIlroy in the States at the US Open,” the highly rated American said.

When a guy’s playing that good you can only keep going and do your best.

“I was just thinking one shot at a time. Played really good, just lost focus on the back nine and couldn’t recover from it. One bad swing on 18 cost me a double.”

Another Swede, Christian Nilsson, also had an impressive third round, his 66 hoisting him into a tie for third with South African Jaco Van Zyl (70) at 8-under.

Scot Jamie Donaldson, Australians Scott Strange and Scott Hend. Spain’s Pablo Martin, South Korea’s Seung-yul Noh, and Sweden’s Niklas Lemke are log-jammed behind them in a tie for 5th at 6-under