July 1, 2018 / 4:32 PM / 18 days ago

Golf - Noren wins French Open as rivals falter late in final round

(Reuters) - Swede Alex Noren did not think he was going to win the RNA French Open, even after he had completed 72 holes, but he clinched his 10th European Tour victory in unlikely fashion, emerging as the last man standing in a wild finish in Paris on Sunday.

Golf - European Tour - BMW PGA Championship - Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Britain - May 27, 2018 Sweden's Alex Noren in action during the final round Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

“It’s unbelievable,” Noren said. “I never thought I was going to win.”

Not after starting the day seven strokes behind overnight leader Marcus Kinhult, and not even after making his move late with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes at Le Golf National.

Even after parring the demanding final hole to card a four-under-par 67, it seemed Noren would at best get into a playoff.

He finished at seven-under 277 and went to the practice range in hopeful anticipation of extra holes. He need not have worried.

American Julian Suri arrived at the par-four 18th in the lead but failed to clear the water hazard with his approach shot and made a double-bogey.

Englishman Chris Wood then bogeyed the 17th, missing a six-foot putt.

Noren dodged a final bullet when Wood could not birdie the last.

“It’s a tricky golf course and the first two days were tough for me,” said Noren, who shot 73 72 65 67.

“I played a lot better on the weekend. It’s not the way maybe you want to see your opponent come in but we all fight out there and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

The result all but clinches Noren a spot in the European team for September’s Ryder Cup, which will be played on the same Le National course.

Suri (69), Wood (73) and Scotsman Russell Knox (65) tied for second on six under.

Kinhult, who had a triple-bogey and a double-bogey, carded 76 to finish two shots behind with Spaniard Jon Rahm (72) and Englishman Matthew Southgate (65).

Suri, Knox and Kinhult received consolation prizes of exempt spots into this month’s British Open at Carnoustie.

The others on the leaderboard were already exempt.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon

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