Nedbank Golf Challenge 2016
Round 4 - Alex Noren snatches win with closing 63
November 14, 2016
Alex Noren won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa with the round of his life on Sunday, a sublime 63 that took him from six shots off the lead overnight to a 6-shot victory and his fourth title of a remarkable season on the European Tour.
Noren was 9 under through the first 11 holes at Sun City on the way to matching the best final round by a winner on this year's tour.
''I found something ... This was the round of my life,'' the Swede said.
The triumph will move Noren up to third on the tour's Race to Dubai, giving him a chance to be crowned Europe's No. 1 golfer at the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai next weekend. Noren is also set to move into the top 10 in the world rankings when they are updated, some rise for a player whose aim at the beginning of the season was to crack the top 50.
The winner's check of $1.16 million at Sun City took the 34-year-old Noren's 2016 earnings above $3.3 million. Two years ago, Noren earned less than $6,000 for the season.
While Noren streaked ahead to finish 14 under overall, Jeunghun Wang, who was three shots clear overnight, ended second on 8 under after four bogeys in his last six holes saw him slip to a 3-over 75 on the last day.
Race to Dubai leader and British Open champion Henrik Stenson was eighth on 6 under, and maintains his advantage on the season standings ahead of the World Tour Championship. U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett finished in a tie for 11th at Sun City and retains second place in the Race to Dubai.
Noren's victory drops Rory McIlroy down to fourth after the Northern Irishman skipped the first two events of the tour's final series, last weekend's Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank Challenge.
McIlroy is expected to return to action in Dubai, when the race has opened up and Noren has a chance at an incredible finish to an already incredible season. He's the first four-time winner on the 2016 European Tour, the first Swede to ever win four times in a season on the tour, and the first player to win four events in a season since McIlroy in 2014.
On Sunday at Sun City, and after he was left frustrated with a third-round 75, Noren opened with three straight birdies and birdied six of his first nine holes. He made eagle on No. 10, and two more birdies coming home, leaving him the luxury of two pars to finish and seal the title on his Nedbank debut.
He also heads to Dubai with high praise from Nedbank Challenge tournament host and South Africa's nine-time major champion Gary Player.
''I got some good words from Gary Player,'' Noren said. ''He thought my chipping looked good and that is always nice to hear.''
Round 3 - Jeunghun Wang takes over lead
November 13, 2016
Jeunghun Wang had an eagle and six birdies in a superb third round on Saturday to take a 3-shot lead into the final day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
Wang's 8-under 64 took him to the front after starting five shots behind overnight leader Alex Noren. The 21-year-old South Korean went bogey-free to go 11 under overall, ahead of home favorite Louis Oosthuizen.
England's Andy Sullivan was a shot behind Oosthuizen, and Noren is in a tie for fourth with Branden Grace.
There was a recovery from Henrik Stenson, with the European Tour's Race to Dubai leader producing a 3-under 69 to climb into a tie for sixth. Stenson is still seven shots behind Wang and needs to win the tournament to wrap up the money list title before the season-ending World Tour Championship next week.
If Stenson doesn't clinch the race here, it's up for grabs in Dubai, when Rory McIlroy is expected to return after skipping the last two tournaments on the tour. McIlroy, the money list winner for the last two seasons, is third in the current standings behind Stenson and England's Danny Willett.
Willett is also playing in Sun City, and made a mini-recovery on Saturday after opening the tournament with 75-74. The U.S. Masters champion found some of his touch with a 5-under 67 to move to level par.
But it's Wang in position for a first Nedbank title and the biggest win of his career after back-to-back victories on the European Tour in May.
Wang chipped in at No. 4 for one of four birdies on the front nine, tapped in for an eagle three on No. 10, immediately followed by a birdie. He sank an 18-foot putt for a birdie on the last.
Round 2 - Alex Noren takes two shot lead
November 12, 2016
Swede Alex Noren moved two shots clear after the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge Friday at the storm-hit Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.
The 34-year-old winner of seven European Tour events, including three this season, added a five-under-par 67 to his first-round 69 for a 136 halfway total.
After a one-birdie first nine of 35, Noren clicked on the inward journey with five more birdies. His lone blemish was a four at the par-three 12th.
"I made a lot of birdies on the back nine after that storm delay. I holed a chip, it was a good nine," said Noren.
"I am very pleased how I kept it together, because it is a tough golf course. A little bit of a wayward shot and you can be in some difficult positions.
"I know how tricky this game is and I am just trying to improve every day, every week."
South Africans George Coetzee (69), Louis Oosthuizen (66) and Jaco van Zyl (69), Chris Wood (69) of England and Fabrizio Zanotti (68) of Paraguay share second place.
Former British Open champion Oosthuizen claimed the lowest round of the day -- a six-birdie 66 -- over the 7,161-metre (7,831-yard), par-72 layout in north-west South Africa.
"There are a lot of holes where you think you can overpower them by just blasting a driver, but I took the hard route today," said Oosthuizen.
"I used a few three irons and a lot of five woods off the tee to give myself a mid-iron into the green."
Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (68) on 139 trails Noren by three shots in the penultimate tournament of the Road to Dubai series.
Series leader and reigning British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden could manage only a two-over 74 and is seven shots off the pace.
Zanotti made history with the first hole-in-one of the 35-year tournament. His ace came at 199-metre fourth
Dane Lasse Jensen claimed only the third albatross of this European season with his three-iron second at 14th trickling into the hole. His 69 left him six shots behind Noren.
Some former major champions fared poorly, including Danny Willett of England, South African Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and German Martin Kaymer.
Willett fired a 74, Harrington and Kaymer carded a 75 each and Schwartzel a 76, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Play was halted for 102 minutes during the afternoon due to a storm and there will be a two-tee start Saturday with more bad weather forecast.
Round 1 - Henrik Stenson in contention
November 11, 2016
Taking advantage of Rory McIlroy's absence, Henrik Stenson forged a late charge Thursday to put himself a shot off the lead after the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Stenson can clinch the Race to Dubai title with a victory in South Africa, and three birdies in his last four holes on Day 1 put him in contention for that, and a second Nedbank title.
Stenson opened with a 3-under 69, just one behind a three-way tie for the lead made up of Felipe Aguilar, Jeunghun Wang and Ross Fisher.
It's the first year the Nedbank Challenge forms part of the European Tour's three-tournament final series. The Nedbank follows last weekend's Turkish Airlines Open, and the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai is to come next weekend.
McIlroy, the Race to Dubai winner the past two seasons, skipped the Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank. McIlroy is third in the standings behind Stenson and Danny Willett.
In South Africa, Stenson started with five straight pars and bogeyed No. 6. He picked up shots at Nos. 8 and 9, but really found his groove at Gary Player Country Club late in his opening round.
While the British Open champion climbed up the leaderboard, Willett was in trouble after opening with a 3-over 75. The Masters champion had a triple-bogey eight on the second hole, made four other bogeys, and faces a long haul to get back in contention.
At the top, Aguilar set the clubhouse lead with his 68, dropping just one shot and collecting five birdies. Wang and Fisher matched that later in the afternoon, while Stenson was one of seven players a shot behind the leaders.
One of them is Alex Noren, who is the European Tour's in-form golfer and is seeking a fourth title this season.