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
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.