Alex Noren will enter his title defence at this week’s Omega European Masters still riding a wave of happiness after the World Number 12 tied the knot with his wife Jennifer last weekend.
The Swede gained another piece of silverware – in the shape of a wedding ring – to add to the four European Tour titles he currently holds after a ceremony which took place close to his hometown of Stockholm, and his bride joins him in Crans-Montana this week at one of the most spectacular venues on tour.
Noren beat Scott Hend in a play-off last year to claim his second of four victories in the 2016 season and he is once again looking to double his tally for the 2017 campaign after claiming the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in May.
Another player celebrating this week is Lee Westwood, who tomorrow will tee it up for his 500th start on the European Tour. It will mark a significant milestone in a career which has yielded 23 European Tour titles and ten Ryder Cup appearances, and during which he has spent 22 cumulative weeks as World Number One.
The Englishman is a former winner at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club and is confident of putting the icing on the cake by claiming the historic title for a second time.
Westwood’s compatriot Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, returns to action for the first time since the US PGA Championship as he attempts to consolidate his place at the top of the Race to Dubai and get off to a good start in the chase for The 2018 Ryder Cup.
“My wife and I just got married at the weekend so this is our honeymoon, it’s beautiful. Maybe we’ll have a real honeymoon later on but it’s a beautiful place to come to, I’ve always liked it here and I think everybody who’s ever played here thinks it’s one of the most beautiful courses and places in the world.
“We have a year and a half old kid but to get married is special still. I didn’t think it was going to be as special a feeling as it was but we had a great day with all the friends and a few golfers over there. Maybe the girls looked forward to it even more but it was a good party as well.
“I’ve always liked this place, I like how the golf course plays. The greens are very tricky, like the 11th and 13th. I haven’t played 11 this year but in the past they were maybe the most difficult holes on the course and they’ve changed them. They’re very beautiful now but the greens are a little bit bigger than in the past. I think it’s fun that it’s very tricky to hit the greens and very tricky to stay on the greens and to chip around here.
“The last few years has obviously been good to me and now I’m trying to get better all the time. It’s not so easy but I’m doing everything I can, trying to practise better and play better tournaments.”
“I’ve just enjoyed playing golf out here on the European Tour since the start. I’ve worked hard and I’ve often been the last to the range on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, and even on tournament days. I’ve been pretty successful, won a couple of money lists and 23 European Tour tournaments, 43 in total around the world in 19 different countries, playing in ten Ryder Cups and being in seven winning teams. It’s been a pretty good to 24 years.
“I’m just pretty fortunate that it’s been a job that’s paid pretty well too and has given me and my family a good lifestyle. I’ve been playing on the European Tour when it’s grown and gone from strength to strength, and it’s flourishing now.
“This is a place where I’ve played well and obviously won in 1999, had a few top tens as well, so it’s always somewhere that I’ve enjoyed coming back to.
“It’d be the cherry on the cake to win this week and I did play well last week, so I’m starting to feel like a few of the old swing thoughts are coming back and I’m feeling more comfortable on the greens. I’m coming back to a course that I enjoy playing so I’m fairly confident this week that if I play well I might be in with a chance on Sunday.”
“It’s a great place to come back. I feel good, I had a three weeks hardly doing much and then I started practising a bit last week, I played a couple of times and I’m getting back into it.
“I enjoy coming to work all the time and when you wake up in the morning here, it’s just the most beautiful place. It’s just somewhere that you appreciate where you are when you’re here. There are very few places like that. It’s been great. I’m enjoying being back, I feel like I’m hitting it quite good. Three weeks off is not that long a time but in terms of how much time we get off a year, it is. We’ll see how it goes.
“You can get on a run and not think about it much. You can shoot a good score and feel like you’ve played well but you can actually play the same and shoot ten shots worse just by the odd break, or you get too carried away going for a pin and you end up 15 feet away from the hole in a horrible lie and you make bogey from nowhere. It does that to you, this course.
“It’s never physical fitness that gets to anybody but it’s mental tiredness playing week in, week out so it’s nice when you can turn up to tournaments feeling as fresh as you can after a rest.”