ABU DHABI // When Alexander Noren was eight years old, he became infatuated with golf. So infatuated that he often was late for dinner at his home in Sweden because he was still out on the course trying to perfect his swing.
Twenty years later, Noren is still a perfectionist. But when his analytical approach to the game yields results, he can put up numbers like the six-under par 66 he recorded yesterday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It was enough for him to finish third behind Charl Schwartzel and Padraig Harrington.
"I like technique," he said. "I always try to improve."
He studies film of golfers considered to have perfect swings, including Tiger Woods in his prime. He concedes to being a "golfaholic", but perhaps a recovering one.
"I was a lot more of a golfaholic than I am now," he said. "I've gotten into photography, so I'm bugging all of the photographers out here with their gear and trying to get the same gear, but it's pretty heavy to travel with.
"I like that, and I like working out, running, but that becomes like 'gymaholic' or a 'runaholic'. So I'm a bit of a 'holic'. Whatever I do, I do it too much."
Noren was sixth in the Dubai World Championships in 2009, the year he recorded his lone European Tour victory, at the European Masters in Switzerland. The Swede birdied three of the four par-5 holes and had only one bogey in his first-day round.
He conceded he sometimes overthinks the game, and is well-served by more of a "grip it and rip it" approach, though it is difficult for him to play that way.
"You don't have to hit every shot straight," he said. "You've got to be the right distance. You've got to chip well, putt well, wedge well, drive well. Work more on what actually happens on the golf course than on the driving range."