Noren shoots 63 for lead

Updated: September 5, 2009, 2:33 PM ET
Reuters

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland, -- Sweden's Alexander Noren put himself on the brink of a maiden European Tour victory by firing a third-round 8-under 63 in the European Masters on Saturday to take a two-shot lead.

Noren finally proved his comeback was complete after a worrying time with injuries this year as he surged to 15-under-par 198, picking up four shots in the last four holes to pull ahead of second-placed Charl Schwartzel of South Africa (65).

The 2006 Crans winner Bradley Dredge of Britain (68), like Noren aiming for a fast start in Europe's year-long Ryder Cup race, holds third place, three shots off the lead.

Noren came close to his first win earlier in the season when he finished second in the Indonesia Open but then wrist and knee injuries blighted him for three months.

He has shown signs of recovery recently and he knows the importance of a grandstand finish, with a place in the elite Dubai World Championship finale also at stake.

"I've been struggling to come back," Noren told reporters after closing with an eagle and two birdies in his last four holes. "Now it feels great to have a chance of winning again. I led once before and didn't do the job so tomorrow is going to be a big day. The way I played today I started thinking about the Ryder Cup, too."

Schwartzel's return to form allows him to target Europe's top 15, who will share a $10 million bonus at the Dubai World Championship. He's currently 34th on the money list but can climb to 14th with a victory on Sunday.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, 45, is still on course to pick up a good haul of points as he tries to become the oldest European Ryder Cup player since continental Europe joined Britain and Ireland in the tour in 1979.

Jimenez (69) shares fourth place, four shots behind Noren, with Angelo Que of the Philippines (68), the highest-placed Asian Tour player in the event co-sanctioned for the first time with Europe, and Briton Ross McGowan (68).

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand (67), who could hold off Schwartzel for 14th place on the money list, is a further stroke back with British youngster Chris Wood (65), who finished tied third in July's British Open.

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