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GOLF

Gallacher and Bjørn lead European Masters

Stephen Gallacher shared the halfway lead at the European Masters golf tournament in Crans-Montana on Friday before confirming that his uncle, former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, is recovering from a heart attack.

Gallacher and Bjørn lead European Masters
Steven Gallacher. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images/AFP

Gallacher junior produced seven second-round birdies for a 65 to leave him with a ten under par total of 132 and a share of the lead with Denmark's Thomas Bjørn, the 2011 champion at the Crans-sur-Sierre course in Switzerland's canton of Valais.

Scotland's Gallacher could have gone into Saturday's third round holding the outright lead but for a bogey at the 18th.

The frontrunners are being chased one shot back by a five-strong group including Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, who set the course record of 61 on his way to winning here in 2010.

One shot further back came first-round leader Anirban Lahiri, and Paul Casey, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington's 65 fired him into contention at seven under.

Gallacher has been struggling recently with a back injury and will take some time off after this week but it did not hamper him too much in the Swiss mountains.

"That was a solid round again today," he told europeantour.com.

"I hit the ball really well on the front nine and got my just rewards for the putts and I'm still in there for tomorrow (Saturday)."

And, in an interview with British Sky Sports television, he had positive news about his 64-year-old uncle Bernard, who has been in critical condition in hospital in Aberdeen since suffering a heart attack on August 30th.

"He was pretty good yesterday (Thursday) . . . he's eating and drinking by himself," Gallacher said.

There's still a long way to go, but he's due to come out of intensive care" he said.

"It's been a tough time for the family, hopefully he's past the worst."

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GOLF

Swede wins European Masters title at Crans

Sweden's Alex Noren beat Australia's Scott Hend at the first play-off hole to win the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland on Sunday.

Swede wins European Masters title at Crans
Alex Noren. Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images North America/AFP

Noren had trailed Hend by a shot heading into the final round but a five-under-par 65 allowed him to finish level on 17 under with Hend, who had a 66.
   
The pair then had to go back up the 18th and Hend hit his tee-shot towards the trees on the left but saw his ball bounce back to the fairway and only just cleared the water with his second, as Noren put his second from the fairway to 30 feet.
   
The Australian chipped to eight feet but Noren holed his putt for the birdie and the win.
   
It is the second time the Swede has won the European Masters after a previous triumph in 2009, and his second win of the year following his Scottish Open victory in July.
   
“It was amazing. I've never won coming from behind. I've never won a play-off on the European Tour, so it feels even more amazing,” said Noren, who took some time off earlier in the year when his partner had a baby.
   
“It's fantastic. I never thought it would be this good of a year.”
   
Noren birdied the first and a run of four straight birdies from the sixth put him two shots clear at the turn, with Hend claiming birdies at the fifth and ninth.
   
However, Hend fought back on the homeward stretch to force the play-off, bogeying the 11th but then managing three birdies at the next four holes.
   
Noren was level on the back nine and a sudden death play-off awaited after Hend got up and down from the back of the green for par at the last while his Swedish opponent could not convert a long birdie attempt.
   
England's Andrew Johnston finished third at 14 under par, with Lee Westwood — a wildcard pick in the Europe team for the upcoming Ryder Cup — two shots further back in fourth after finishing with a 63.

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