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Swede Noren romps 11 shots clear after course record 63

Noren reacts after his shot on the second hole in the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open in Maryland
Noren reacts after his shot on the second hole in the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open in Maryland

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swede Alexander Noren was unstoppable on Saturday as he fired a course record nine-under 63 to charge into an 11-shot lead after the Scandinavian Masters third round.

Twice U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen is the only player to open a bigger third-round advantage on the European Tour, the South African having led by 13 strokes on the way to landing the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic title in Australia.

No one has ever come from more than 10 shots behind to win on the circuit.

Noren, who finished with a 20-under total of 196, will play alongside big-hitting American Bubba Watson (69) in the final round after the Wales Open winner attends a friend's wedding later on Saturday where he will drink "water and diet coke."

"I never thought it would be possible to shoot these scores. Every shot went the way I wanted. Unreal," world number 92 Noren told the tour's website (www.europeantour.com).

World number 14 Watson likened Noren's exploits at the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club to the display of Rory McIlroy at last month's U.S. Open where the Northern Irishman won by eight shots.

"He's playing so good right now, like McIlroy at the U.S. Open. When a guy's playing that good you can only keep going and do your best," said Watson.

Noren, who notched seven birdies and an eagle to reclaim the course record he briefly set on Friday before South Korean Jin Jeong went one better with a 65, has not had to write a bogey on his scorecard for 41 holes.

Trailing in his wake on 208, one stroke behind Watson, were Swede Christian Nilsson (66) and South African Jaco Van Zyl (70).

World number seven Dustin Johnson (67) of the U.S. was among a host of players on 211.

(Writing by Tom Pilcher in London, editing by Tony Jimenez)