Nedbank Golf Challenge: Alex Noren Leads By Two At Halfway Point
Alex Noren leads by two at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, in search of fourth win in four months
It’s Alex Noren’s world and we’re all just living in it. Alright, that’s a stretch, but you could argue few have played better golf in the last four months than the Swede.
Heading into the weekend at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the world No. 17 is continuing his torrid pace in the Race to Dubai Final Series with a two-stroke lead at eight-under-par.
Noren’s climbed over 80 spots in the Official World Golf Rankings from this time in 2015 and is seeking his fourth European Tour win since July.
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Noren (69-67) overtook a trio that led at four-under-par after Thursday thanks to a five-under-par round on Friday that had just one blemish on the card.
Despite a delay near the middle of his round, a little weather didn’t get him down. The way things have been going, why should it?
“I made a lot of birdies on the back nine after that delay, which was great fun,” Noren was quoted in a European Tour press release. “I managed to chip-in, which always helps. And then make a birdie on 17, which is quite a tricky hole today. Overall, I’m very pleased.”
Noren is a likable figure on tour and is the betting favorite entering the weekend. That still won’t be enough to make him the fan favorite at the top of the leaderboard, nor the owner of the most memorable moment to date.
Five at six-under-par will give immediate chase in a tournament that’s far from over. Three of the five are South Africans will seek to become the first to win on home turf here at Gary Player Country Club (in its first iteration as a Final Series event) since 2007.
Louis Oosthuizen’s six-under 66 on Friday is the low round of the tournament and his fellow South Africans at six-under, Jaco Van Zyl (69-69) and George Coetzee (69-69), both have found the winner’s circle on Tour in their careers.
Noren wowed the galleries with his ballstriking (77.8% GIR, T2 in the field), but it was Fabrizio Zanotti who had the thrill of the day.
The Paraguayan is in the group of contenders at six-under largely thanks to his hot start to round two. He birdied holes No. 1 and 2 before recording the first ace in tournament history on the 210-yard No. 4.
If that wasn’t enough excitement for you, there were plenty of mongooses on the premises to keep things interesting.
The highest-ranked player in the field, No. 4 Henrik Stenson, suffered through a Friday 74 but is still in position to do himself favors to win the Race to Dubai. A 69 on Thursday has him afloat seven back in a tie for 17th at one-under for the tournament.
A win this week and a finish outside the top 10 from his nearest chaser, Danny Willett (T54), would lock up the RtD in advance of the DP World Tour Championship next week that closes the season. Even a high finish would heavily tip the scales Stenson’s way.
All seventy-two golfers in the field will stick around Sun City for the entire four days, but some big names look ready to cash their check and get out. Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer sits in a tie for last at 12-over-par.
Others with a “missed-cut” type of effort include recent winners Alexander Levy (T66, +8), Padraig Harrington (T64, +7) and Thomas Pieters (T54, +5).
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