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Karlsson hitting his stride in this year’s majors

Robert Karlsson wasted no time picking up where he left off at the first three majors of the season by charging into contention at the 90th PGA Championship.

Karlsson hitting his stride in this year's majors

The giant Swede, who is ranked 22nd in the world, is the only player to record top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors in 2008.

“I now feel comfortable playing in the big events where as before I had a bit of a problem,” said Karlsson, who fired a two-under 68 in Thursday’s first round of the final major of the season and shares the lead with India’s Jeev Milkha Singh.

“This year my swing is better and I feel more content with life in general.”

The 38-year-old finished eighth in the Masters, fourth at the US Open and seventh at the British Open.

On Thursday, Karlsson birdied the par-four, 11th hole then stumbled slightly down the stretch with back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15. More importantly he didn’t let a double bogey on the first hole get him down.

“I was slightly upset,” he said of the double bogey. “When I do something like that I just try to remember that I actually can play golf even though it didn’t look like it. It helped that I hit a great two putt on number two.”

Karlsson said as he gets more experienced on the Tour, he is able to relax better in the big tournaments.

“Now on the first tee I am sort of my own boss a lot more than I’ve ever been,” he said. “Before I tried to force results and tried to make things happen instead of just going out there and playing.

“I tried to play too difficult for a while and just saw big rough and I couldn’t play.

“The shots can only come when I am standing on the first tee and not too afraid to go out and meet a very tough golf course.”

The son of a greenskeeper, Karlsson is one of the tallest players in the

field at six-foot-five (1.95 metres).

He is appearing in his seventh PGA Championship and finished 57th last year. His best finish was a 40th in 2006 in Chicago where he shot a third round 69.

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.