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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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GOLF

Bjørn scores second Masters win in play-off

Denmark's Thomas Bjørn birdied the first extra play-off hole to capture his second European Masters golf title in three years in Switzerland on Sunday after coming back from two shots down in the final round.

Bjørn scores second Masters win in play-off
Thomas Bjorn. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images North America/ AFP/File

At the weather-hit mountain course at Crans-Montana, Bjorn holed a 12-foot putt to defeat Scotland's Craig Lee in mist and steady rain after both players ended regulation play tied at 20-under par.
   
It is the two-time Ryder Cup winner's 14th career victory but first in two years while Lee was looking to capture a maiden Tour title.
   
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson shot a final round 66 to finish alone in third on 19 under while Spaniard Alejandro Canizares was a further shot back in fourth.
   
"It was nice," said the relieved Dane after closing out victory on the first play-off after Lee found the bunker with his tee shot on the 18th which gave him a tough approach to the par four green.
   
"When I get into situations like today (Sunday) I really know to grind it out and I have to say I've been pretty good at closing out tournaments in my career," he said.
   
"I give everything in those situations and I just grind, and grind and grind even knowing that I don't need to play great.
   
"That's what it's about late on Sunday afternoons and I've just got that in me."
   
Victory earned Bjørrn a first prize cheque of 366,660 euros and will lift him from 66th to 45th in the world rankings.

"This year I have come up short a few times including the hurt in Munich but I came here really desperate to win this golf tournament so this one is very sweet for me given I am 42 years of age," he said.
   
"I had two bogeys in 72 holes, which is good going around here," Bjørrn said.

"I felt good and I got over the line," he said.

"It was nice to do that in a playoff.

"I've had a hard time dealing with pressure situations and there is no more pressure than that."
   
It was had on Lee who equalled the course record on Saturday with a sensational ten under par 61 that sent him into the final day with a two-shot lead.
   
Bjørrn needed just nine putts over the front nine to take the clubhouse lead but Lee hit back with three birdies down the stretch and agonisingly saw his birdie stroke for victory lip out at the final hole which sent the pair to a play-off.

"You keep thinking when is going to be the next win but then you play alongside someone like Miguel (Angel Jimenez) and he seems like he's 60-odd and away you go and that gives you more confidence," continued Bjørrn.

Jimenez finished tied for fifth with Englishman Ross Fisher five shots back.
   
The victory puts Bjørrn top of the Ryder Cup qualifying points table after two weeks of qualifying.

Despite Lee's disappointment the Scot jumped from 108th to 55th on the Race to Dubai and the assurance of retaining his Tour card for next year.
   
"This result lifts a lot of weight off my shoulders as my card is now secure for next year and it means I don't have to go chasing tournaments like heading to Perth in Australia later this year," said Lee.
   
"Now I can think about maybe getting ready to go to China for the 'Final Series' instead."

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