Our round-up of the week's Tour news features a Wentworth blitz, while Kevin Kisner sneaks home at Colonial and Sam Torrance is honoured by the European Tour.
Alex Noren continues fine European Tour form
Alex Noren fired a course-record 10-under-par on Sunday to overturn a seven-shot deficit and win the BMW PGA Championship.
Noren carded eight birdies and an eagle on the 18th over Wentworth’s West Course, which underwent a £5 million renovation in 12 months running up to this year’s flagship event at European Tour headquarters.
Noren’s 62 took him to 11-under-par for the tournament – a clubhouse target that no one was able to match – and it saw the 34-year-old Swede lift his fifth European Tour title since July and ninth overall.
Sunday began with birdies at the first, second, fourth and seventh to turn in 31. He added further gains at 12, 13, 14 and 16 before his eagle three at the last – a full four shots better than how he played the hole 24 hours earlier.
He had to wait more than two hours, but it was eventually enough to take the £894,000 first prize and a two-shot victory over Italy’s Francesco Molinari on nine under. Noren’s compatriot Henrik Stenson, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara were a further shot back at eight under.
“I putted probably the best I’ve ever putted,” Noren, whose caddie Lee Warne used to be a greenkeeper at Wentworth, told reporters.
“It feels amazing and crazy because I had no intention of trying to win this morning. I did not even think about it. I was pretty angry after the third round, especially after chipping into the water from the back of the green on 18.
“But it’s a great feeling now and a bit unreal.”
Henrik Stenson tips compatriot for the top
Open champion Henrik Stenson is confident Alex Noren will follow in his footsteps as a major winner after his fellow Swede secured his impressive win at Wentworth.
“It would be hard to say that you can’t see a major for him in the future if he keeps on playing like that,” Stenson said.
“He’s worked a lot on his game, sometimes maybe too much. He played just twice in 2014 because of wrist problems but I think he’s kind of found his formula and it’s obviously working.
“I played with him in the final round when he won in Nedbank last year and the putts that he made were extraordinary.
“He’s played a bit more in America. I think that’s a bit of a learning experience, to take the game across the Atlantic and get familiar with the courses over there. He’s making progress and he’s had a very impressive year.”
Grace’s amazing drop
The talking point of the week came on day one when Branden Grace got a free drop after explaining that his feet were touching the rubber base at the base of the bunker at the 13th hole where his ball lay plugged in the face.
A rules official gave him the green light and he made a bogey, much to the disillusionment of everyone watching. Danny Willett, whose former caddy Jonathan Smart is now working with the South African, tweeted:”@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???”
Paul McGinley, who did contact Grace to clarify that he had no problem with the player, rather the ruling, added: “If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means any time a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”
As for Grace, who tied for 9th after a back nine of 40 on Sunday, he explained his position – “You are always going to get some good vibes and some bad vibes, that is just the name of the game. There were a couple of players that said some stuff but a couple of guys came up to me on the putting green. Peter Hanson said he had a situation like that yesterday and he didn’t even think of asking for the ruling.
“He said to me this morning if he knew what he knows now, if he ever gets in that situation then he might ask. I am sure I am not going to be the last one. I don’t think I did anything wrong. The rules official was there and he made the call so that is the end of the story.”
Bow down before me
Pablo Larrazabal and Haotong Li had a fun side bet in the final round at Wentworth – the loser had to bow to the winner on the 18th tee.
And Li is a man of his word…
Kisner doubles up on PGA Tour
Kevin Kisner held off a star-studded leaderboard at the Dean & Deluca Invitational to pick up his second victory with Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Sean O’Hair in second place at Colonial.
Spieth, playing in his home state of Texas and playing on the back of two missed cuts, came through with a closing 65 but Kisner’s 66 was good enough to get him over the line. England’s Paul Casey had got himself into the final group but his 73 dropped him down to T10.
Spaniard Rahm had a chance to get to double figures, the same mark Kisner was on, but his birdie putt at the 72nd hole drifted by and Kisner knocked in a five-footer for par. That left Webb Simpson as the only player who was able to match the American but he made a mess of the 18th and dropped a shot.
A major week for Chan Kim
American Chan Kim has qualified for his second major in a week after winning the Mizuno Open in Japan to book a spot at the Open Championship.
Kim, who last week earned his place at the US Open, won by five over New Zealand’s Michael Hendry, Australia’s Adam Bland and South Korea’s KT Kim, who also qualified.
Another Australian, Won-Joon Lee, tied with KT Kim, but missed out on the final Birkdale berth by virtue of Kim’s higher world ranking.
Sam Torrance honoured for record-breaking career
Sam Torrance has been awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour.
Torrance, who turned pro in 1970, played 706 events on the European Tour – which remains a record – and won 21 titles, before going on to win the Senior Tour Order of Merit three times.
He also played in eight successive Ryder Cups – winning three and retaining one – before going on to be a winning captain.
“It’s been my whole life,” said Torrance. “I should really be honouring the European Tour for giving me such an arena to play golf. What a life. It has been so rewarding – the people I’ve met, the places, I’ve been. What a journey.
“The Ryder Cup captaincy was definitely the highlight of my career but I’ve many memories.
“I won the Australian PGA in 1980, which to this day is still my biggest win. I played with Seve the last two rounds. Seve finished second, Greg Norman finished third. I beat the pair of them and when I came off the last green, Seve said, “Hey Sam, you’re very tough to beat”. For someone as legendary as that to say that to me, it gave me so much confidence.
“Up to that point I’d only won twice and hadn’t played in the Ryder Cup yet. I went on to win a few and play in a few Ryder Cups and a lot was down to that great man.”
We love, love, LOVE this little video from the European Tour. Little Aaron’s face as each golfer arrives makes this well worth four minutes of your time…
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