Noren leads Ballantine's Championship

In a rain interrupted contest, Sweden's Alex Noren is one stroke ahead of field after third round in South Korea.

    Noren leads Ballantine's Championship
    Noren is looking for his fourth European Tour victory and first since 2011 [GALLO/GETTY]

    Alex Noren of Sweden leads by one stroke at the Ballantine's Championship after shooting a 3-under 69 in the third round following his earlier 67 in the rain-delayed second round on Saturday.

    After two days of weather delays, the European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event got back on track despite the cold and windy conditions on the Blackstone Course.

    Noren is at 9 under as he seeks his fourth European Tour victory and first since winning twice in 2011.

    The tough thing here is to judge the wind on the second shots, so it's been tricky for the mind and I'm exhausted right now"

    Leader Alex Noren

    "I made a lot of par putts and also the putt at the last for birdie, and that's always very important,'' Noren said.

    "The tough thing here is to judge the wind on the second shots, so it's been tricky for the mind and I'm exhausted right now.

    "I haven't been in the lead for a long time, and I've had some good finishes, but it will be a lot of fun."

    Pablo Larrazabal of Spain (68) and Peter Whiteford of Scotland (68) are tied for second place. Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner who is the highest ranked player in the field at No. 7, shot a 71 after a triple bogey at No. 13 to be equal eighth at 5 under.

    Larrazabal birdied the last for the third day running as he bids to capture a third European Tour success a fortnight before his 30th birthday.

    "I hit the ball beautiful today, and from the tee I was very solid and the irons were very good. To have six birdies, I am very happy,'' he said.

    "So I am happy to be in the fight again. It will good to play in the final group tomorrow as it's been a long time."

    Scott inspiration

    Whiteford is looking for his maiden victory in his 143rd appearance since making his European Tour debut in 2005.

    Australian pair Brett Rumford and 2010 Ballantine's champion Marcus Fraser hit 69s for a share of fourth at 7 under.

    Australian-born golfers have been winning regularly in the PGA Tour, including Adam Scott becoming the first Australian to win the Masters earlier this month, but it's been a lean two years since an Aussie won on the European Tour.

    Rumford ended his round with five straight birdies and needed just 25 putts as he looks for his first win in more than five years.

    "It was great to birdie the last five holes, and I've got some fellow Australians up on the leaderboard and that's adding inspiration," said Rumford.

    "And with Adam Scott's win at the Masters, it seems to have inspired us all."

    Fraser let slip a share of the lead with a bogey at the last after landing on a cart path to send his ball rolling 100 yards further away from the hole. 

    "I played great today and holed out really well to save par from three or four feet a number of times," said Fraser.

    "But it was a pretty ordinary second shot coming in to finish. But there was a lot more good than bad today.

    "And Australian golf is flying high at the moment and there's one person to thank for that, Mr. Scott, and that was just an unbelievable week for him and to be the first Australian to win the Masters was something he deserved. There is a lot of guys out here this week inspired by what Adam's done and it's also inspired a lot of people back home."

    SOURCE: AP


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