LA JOLLA: Sweden’s Alex Noren shook off a disappointing double bogey Saturday, closing strong at Torrey Pines to take a one-shot lead at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Noren, a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is seeking his first US PGA Tour title, carded a three-under par 69 to take the 54-hole lead on 11-under 205.
He was one stroke in front of Ryan Palmer, the overnight leader who was atop the leaderboard much of the day but followed an eagle at the 13th with bogeys at 14 and 16 to come in with a one-over 73 for 206.
Americans J.B. Holmes and Michael Kim shared third on 207, with former world number one Jason Day of Australia and England’s Justin Rose among a group of seven sharing fifth place on 208.
With 14-time major champion Tiger Woods in the spotlight in his first US PGA Tour tournament since he missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year, Noren made a quiet ascent up the leaderboard.
After five pars he drained a 38-foot eagle putt at the sixth.
He was disappointed to give two shots back with a double-bogey at the 12th, where he need four shots to reach the green.
But he responded with three birdies the rest of the way, taking the lead with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th.
“That double was very sour to me,” said Noren, ranked 19th in the world. “Finally got some birdies coming back, which felt very good.”
Despite his success on the European Tour, Noren is little known in the United States – and he’s happy to fly under the radar.
“I don’t care too much if they know me or not,” he said. “They’re very nice to me. If you make a birdie, they’re cheerful. I like playing here, played college golf here.”
That’s just another reason Noren says he has “dreamt of winning” on the US tour.
“To win would be very, very big for my confidence,” he said.--AFP