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Alexander Noren stakes his Ryder Cup claim

Swede Alex Noren has put himself forward as the first potential rookie in Europe's Ryder Cup team next year.

It took just over £1million in earnings to make the last side and Noren has more than £292,000 already banked after winning the Omega European Masters in Switzerland on Sunday.

The 27-year-old beat Welshman Bradley Dredge by two for his first European Tour title in the week qualifying for Celtic Manor began.

Asked what the message to captain Colin Montgomerie would be Noren said: "If I can play like I did this week then I should be in your team!

"The way I see it is that you have to improve all the time. After the first win you have to get yourself to the next level and then the next level and so on until you get to the Ryder Cup.

"If I was playing Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup tomorrow then he would have so much more experience, but this is great for me - to build my career, to get another step up the ladder.

"It proves more to myself than others. I have questioned myself a few times, wondered whether I was good enough to win or whether I needed to change anything in my game.

"This week I really proved to myself that I could play well and go low for four rounds.

"The last time I had the lead going into the final round (in Portugal two years ago) I played bad and finished 11th.

"This time I missed two short putts, but I still shot five under and that proved a lot to me in terms of confidence.

"I actually wasn't as happy as I thought I would be when I sank the putt to win, but it's just all hitting me now and it feels amazing."

There was also a moment of magic at a critical time.

Noren had been four ahead with 11 to play, then Dredge pitched in for eagle on the ninth and chipped in for birdie on the 11th to draw level.

The former Oklahoma State student got his nose back in front with a two-putt birdie at the 14th and from a greenside bunker on the 15th, another par five, holed it for eagle.

Dredge shot 65 to Noren's 66, so had no cause to beat himself up at just missing out on repeating his 2006 victory at Crans-sur-Sierre.

He has not won since then and had slumped to 256th in the world, but he has maintained all season the start of the points race for the first-ever match on Welsh soil was his main focus.

"It was a fun battle and Alex produced a great shot on the 15th, so congratulations to him," he said.

England's Ross McGowan also returned a 65 to take third spot, but the best round of the day was a 64 from Rory McIlroy.

That lifted the 20-year-old from 34th to seventh, but he stays third on the European money list - and blames a cameraman for that.

A closing birdie would have given McIlroy a 62 and the lowest round of his Tour career, but he heard a click as he was hitting his tee shot, missed the fairway and bogeyed.

In July's French Open Ian Poulter was furious about the same thing and the northern Irishman said: "It's been happening all week. When you come to places like this some of the photographers don't know golf.

"I thought if I could get another birdie I might have half a chance of winning." In the event he finished eight behind.

McIlroy plays in Korea this week and that gives Lee Westwood - 23rd yesterday - the chance to go above him at the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Germany.

September 8, 2009

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