Alex Noren eagled the 72nd hole to set a new clubhouse record and win the BMW PGA Championship by three shots, equalling the biggest final-round comeback with Rory McIlroy and Simon Khan.
The 34-year-old Swede began the day seven shots back, and went on to card a 10-under-par final-round of 62, setting the early club-house lead at 11-under-par and eventually finishing three-shots ahead of Francesco Molinari.
The World No. 13 birdied three of his first four holes to firmly put himself in to contention at the newly designed West Course at Wentworth. He picked up another gain at the seventh before a run of three back-to-back birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th on his way to his ninth European Tour victory.
Noren then birdied one more hole on the 16th to join the leaders before sticking his approach on the last to five feet, sealing the eagle and taking the outright lead at the European Tour’s first ever Rolex Series event.
“My putting is probably the best it has ever been,” Noren said after his round. “I felt good coming out but I didn’t expect anything like this. It feels amazing”
As Noren was safely in the clubhouse with a two-shot lead and a two-hour wait, the sun made way for a spell of incredibly heavy rain and many of the chasing pack began to unravel.
Henrik Stenson was the first to falter, dropping two shots in three holes on the 13th and 15th, and despite a final-hole birdie he wasn’t able to recover any more of the defecit, ending the event tied for third at eight-under-par with Nicolas Colsaerts and Hideto Tanihara.
Shane Lowry and Tanihara stood on the 15th tee at nine-under, but both men pushed their drives left and ended up dropping shots, with Lowry the worse off of the two with a double-bogey thanks to finding out of bounds from the tee.
As Tanihara missed his birdie chances on the 17th to go in to solo second, Lowry missed a near-tap in and made another double-bogey to drop back to five-under par. It was a wonderful eagle on the 18th for Lowry to get to T6th, but Tanihara wasn’t able to hole his birdie chance and was left to settle for joint-third.
Branden Grace took the early lead with birdies on the second and fourth holes, but a double-bogey on the 12th was followed by another blemish on the 15th for him to drop out of the race at six-under-par. He made a gain on the 17th to move back to seven-under, but mistakes on the 18th meant for a disappointing bogey finish to end up T9 with a one-over-par 73.
Overnight leader Andrew Dodt had a mixed afternoon, bogeying the first hole of the tournament before picking up two birdies on the third and fourth. A bogey on the 11th was followed by a double on the par-three 14th, but the Australian had an encouraging finish, chipping in for birdie on the 17th hole and making another birdie on 18 to end up seven-under.
Francesco Molinari was one of the only players to have a blemish free back-nine, carding birdies on the 12th, 17th and 18th holes for a final-round 68 to grab solo second at nine-under-par.
It was Nicolas Colsaerts who was the closest to matching Noren’s fantastic round, taking advantage of the early conditions with a seven-under 65 that could have been so much better.
He birdied four of the first nine, and although Colsaerts had eagles on both the 12th and 18th holes, the Belgian bogeyed the 12th and double-bogeyed the 15th – and admitted he left a few shots out there.
Colsaerts said “It could have been 10-under. I only had one bad swing on 15 where I hit it out of bounds and made double. . . It could have been really really low today.”
“This was the kind of day I’ve been waiting for. I feel like I’ve been playing well for a little while but I’ve been making mistakes. To do it on the first big big tournament of the year is very very satisfying”