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GOLF

Stenson swings into world matchplay semis

Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson played some sterling golf on Friday to set up a semi-final confrontation with Ernie Els in the world matchplay championship at Wentworth.

Stenson crushed BMW PGA champion Anders Hansen 7 and 6, despite the Dane holing his tee shot at the tenth for a hole in one. That spectacular effort proved to be a mere stay of execution for the Dane and by the time the pair reached the twelfth green, Stenson’s date with Ernie Els was inevitable.

“I played great today,” the Swede said, “especially in the morning. This afternoon, I got a birdie on the second, and then hit a couple of bad shots but he gave up six and seven and after that I felt pretty confident.”

Stenson, whose form in high summer has been disrupted by a persistent grass allergy, now faces the prospect of 36 holes against Els.

“It will be a tough weekend, playing Ernie, the six times winner who re-designed the course – he even lives here,” Stenson said. “Are there any more advantages we can give him?”

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.