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GOLF

Record-equalling Erlandsson leads British Masters

Martin Erlandsson leads the British Masters after the Swede equalled the lowest round at The Belfry on Thursday.

Erlandsson, 33, was seven under par on the last seven holes to card a nine-under 63 that gave him a two-stroke lead over compatriot Jarmo Sandelin and South African Richard Sterne.

It matched the score of Eamonn Darcy back in 1983, but the Brabazon course has been lengthened since then, so Erlandsson’s effort will stand as a new course record on its own in the eyes of the European Tour.

He has never won a European Tour event in 10 years as a professional and his previous best finish was second at the 2005 Wales Open.

But Erlandsson, who was only two under after 11 holes, eagled the long third, birdied the 442-yard next and then in the fading light closed with four more birdies thanks to putts of 14, 25, 10 and 10 feet.

He was delighted to come through a daunting run of holes in such impressive fashion.

“That’s definitely the toughest stretch, so I’m really pleased,” he said.

“It has got to be the best round of my career. I don’t think I missed a single shot. I was really spot-on with my swing.

“My card is secure for this year, so it’s a very different game. I’m more relaxed and can enjoy playing. It’s a good feeling.”

GOLF

Sweden’s Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters

Sweden's Alex Noren came back from a seven-shot overnight deficit to claim a dramatic French Open victory at Le Golf National on Sunday, as the difficult closing stretch of the Ryder Cup course saw a host of challengers slip up.

Sweden's Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters
Swedish golfer Alex Noren holds the trophy after winning the HNA Open de France, as part of the European Tour 2018, on Sunday. Photo: LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP
Fellow Swede Marcus Kinhult had entered Sunday's play with a two-shot lead but struggled through a five-over final round to end in a three-way tie for fifth.
 
World number 16 Noren fired a brilliant four-under 67 to reach seven-under par for the tournament, before sitting back and watching his rivals falter as he won by a single stroke.
 
The 35-year-old will be a key figure for Europe when the Ryder Cup gets underway on September 28, and he showed all his qualities by playing the last three holes in two-under.
 
The big-name pairing of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm both threatened, but the two Spaniards found water at the 18th, while world number two Justin Thomas never seriously contended.
 
Julian Suri, who was looking to become the first American winner of the event since Barry Jaeckel in 1972, went to the 72nd hole on eight-under but made a watery double-bogey, while England's Chris Wood also blew a late lead.
 
That handed Noren, who finished his fourth round 45 minutes before the final group, a 10th European Tour title and first since the BMW PGA Championship in May 2017, when he also fought back from seven shots behind on the final day.
 
Scotland's Russell Knox carded a final-round 65 earlier in the day to finish tied for second with Suri and Wood on six-under — enough to secure him a spot for the British Open at Carnoustie along with Kinhult and Suri.