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Noren takes commanding lead in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM – Alexander Noren of Sweden shot a course-record 9-under 63 Saturday to extend his lead to 11 shots after the third round of the Nordea Masters.

Noren held a three-shot overnight lead and made seven birdies and an eagle in a flawless round on the Bro Hof Slott course for a 20-under total of 196. He equaled the second largest third-round lead ever on the European Tour, behind Retief Goosen’s 13-shot edge at the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Noren said. “I never thought it would be possible to shoot these scores. Every shot went the way I wanted.”

Bubba Watson shot a 69 to sit in second place, one stroke ahead of Christian Nilsson of Sweden and Jaco Van Zyl of South Africa.

Noren opened with four pars, then made two consecutive birdies and set up a two-foot putt for an eagle on the ninth. He added five birdies on the back nine to break the course record by two shots. At 7,603 yards, the Bro Hof Slott course is the longest on the European Tour this year.

“It’s hard to sink in. I’ve never dreamt of playing like this here,” Noren said. “I just thought if I make the cut I will be happy this week.”

Watson looked set to challenge Noren when he started his round with three straight birdies, and added two more on the front nine. But he couldn’t keep that pace up, mixing two more birdies with two bogeys on the back nine before finishing with a double-bogey on the 18th. That left him with little hope of catching Noren on Sunday.

“He’s playing so good right now, like (Rory) McIlroy in the States at the U.S. Open,” Watson said. “When a guy is playing that good you can only keep going and do your best.”