Golf: Noren pips Hend in playoff to win European Masters


(Reuters) – A nerveless Alex Noren continued his fine year by winning the European Masters on Sunday after pipping overnight leader Scott Hend to the title with a lengthy birdie putt in the first playoff hole.

Swede Noren, who had previously won the European Masters in 2009, started the final day one shot behind Hend, but overtook the Australian after a strong front nine, hitting four consecutive birdies.

They ended the regulation holes level on 17 under, and while Hend shot par in the first extra hole, Noren took the title with a superb 20-metre birdie putt for his second win of the season following his Scottish Open triumph in July.

“It’s unbelievable,” Noren told Sky Sports. “I didn’t really believe this coming into today, (I had a) tough couple of guys hunting me down.

“It’s tough to be in the front.”

England’s Andrew Johnston returned to contention during a fine day’s golf to finish in third on 14 under, while Lee Westwood ended in fourth on 12 under, just ahead of his Ryder Cup team mate Matthew Fitzpatrick on 10 under.

Among the other members of Europe’s Ryder Cup contingent, defending champion and early leader Danny Willett finished 12th on nine under, having been 10 shots off the pace overnight, with Chris Wood in 49th on two under. England’s Andy Sullivan had missed the cut.

(Reporting by Ed Dove; Editing by Toby Davis)

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