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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Win breeds Ryder Cup confidence for French Open champion Alex Noren

Swede only player on either team to have won at Le Golf National

Team Europe's Alex Noren won the French Open at Le Golf National on July 1. Reuters
Team Europe's Alex Noren won the French Open at Le Golf National on July 1. Reuters

Sweden's Alex Noren is already a winner at Le Golf National this year and that French Open triumph has boosted his confidence ahead of his Ryder Cup debut this weekend on the same layout.

The 36 year old from Stockholm joins Europe for the biennial team showdown against the United States after winning the European Tour stop near Paris on July 1, firing 65-67 on the weekend for a one-shot victory after top-10 efforts in 2016 and 2017.

"Great to be back. Great memories," Noren said. "It's different with the Ryder Cup, but it's nice to be at a course you've played a lot of times.

"It's nice to be at a course where I've done well, especially the last three years, and it gives me confidence. Like you don't have to play maybe perfect shots all the time."

Knowing when to attack and when to accept what the course allows will be crucial this week, said 18th-ranked Noren, whose wife Jennifer is expecting their second child in December.

"This course is all about patience and I think it's an unbelievable match-play course," Noren said. "There are a lot of birdies out there, but you've got to hit great shots."

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All 12 European players have competed at least once at Le Golf National with Noren and 2017 French Open winner Tommy Fleetwood of England among six to finish in the top three.

"I think it helps us be a little more confident, having played a lot of rounds here, knowing how it plays, what pins and all that. We've seen the whole place a lot of times," Noren said.

"As it's set up now, with a little bit softer fairways, it's more definite what you have to do. Now it's more about looking in the yardage book and finding out the flight of the drive because it's very consistent how much the ball rolls.

"You don't have to have as many practice rounds maybe as when it's firm, but overall, I think it's nice to come to a course where you know with this wind, it's this club."

The Americans have only a combined eight competitive rounds at the course ahead of Friday's start, half of those by Justin Thomas in an eighth-place effort three months ago.

"It's softer fairways than in July," Noren said. "Greens are about same firmness. Greens are rolling great. And the rough, some of the really long stuff is gone, but it's a little bit greener, so it probably emphasises even better shots off the tees."