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January 24, 2017

Alex Noren

Doha, Qatar

Q. First question, what was so special about last year? Why did everything suddenly click and you kept winning?
ALEX NOREN: Well, a few things. You know, I've been working with my coach for about three years now, and it's getting better and better, and a little bit more understanding of my swing than always trying to change it, instead of, you know, maybe I know how it's looking maybe at the beginning of the week. I know I'll try these shots and maybe don't try these shots or I'm working on this. So when it looks like this, I try to do this; so it's a little bit more understanding and a little bit less wondering and trying new things here or there.

And then obviously, the turning point I think when I played Oakmont, I missed the cut there, but I thought it was now seeing what a tough, unbelievable golf course can look like. And I came to France, and I've always had trouble in France and I came, and I'm like, this is easier than the last time I was in France, because I had just witnessed huge Oakmont. So I finished eighth in France, and then coming in, that kind of kicked on; won Scottish the week after.

So I think it's just, you know, a few things like this. The coach, and the first win; I kind of held on when I didn't play maybe great at the end of the last round and won by one in the end, and that gives you a lot of confidence.

So then in Crans, it was a similar thing. It was easier the second time around, and the third time around and the fourth time.

Q. From that, do you think you've moved on to another level as a player? The speculation is you've moved from a good player, solid player, to who is obviously Top-10, but potentially even better than that. Do you feel that yourself?
ALEX NOREN: Well, when I play with other players that I'm looking at and trying to see, you know, compare myself to like Rickie Fowler and all those guys that I'm trying to beat, I can see a lot of weaknesses in my game and a few strengths.

I don't think I'm such a different player from previous. It's more like I'm more aware of weaknesses and my strengths, and I can maybe strategically work my way around that.

So I don't feel like the skills, the skill level has not increased dramatically. It's more that I -- well, I just know my game better. So I'm not going for shots that are quite low percentage of making. Overall, my game is a lot more, you know, I don't have really the bad shots as often as I did before.

So like a week like last week, you know, I hit a lot of greens and I hit a lot of fairways and made a few bogeys. So I think overall, the bad shots are a lot better than before. So that's another I think key. It's more relaxing to play when you don't have those really errant shots.

Q. You come into this event as the leading player in the field by ranking. You've done quite well here in the past. Do you come in here with higher ambitions and looking to build on last week?
ALEX NOREN: Yeah, I thought it felt a little rusty coming into last week, and then I finished up with a decent finish, which boosted me a little. Because I tried to work on a lot of things over the winter and maybe it didn't work as well as I thought and I didn't feel as good as I wanted coming into the season. But then a decent finish gives you a little bit of a confidence boost. It feels quite good right now.

But once again, like I said, my expectations are not dramatically different from the last few years. I'm trying to work my way -- just work on a daily basis with my caddie and my coach and improve, and not try to build up expectations. Just really be realistic about my game. This is what my game looks like, instead of thinking I'm 10th in the world.

Q. So does it make it harder knowing that you are the top-ranked player in the tournament this week?
ALEX NOREN: That's a positive. I feel that as a positive, yeah. It gives me a lot of satisfaction, because I came here, I think 2006 on a wildcard; I got an invite and shot millions. It feels different coming here this time. I feel better than that.

Q. What is the difference between times you came and this time, the whole tournament and the Qatar organisation?
ALEX NOREN: Well, it's always, a different week. I think Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there's a lot of people, a lot of people living around the place and a lot of hype. Got a lot going on.

This I think is a little bit quieter week. Not that the golf is any different, but I think it's a very relaxing -- it's a good tournament, relaxing week. Maybe less going on around. Not as many spectators maybe. But I really enjoy this tournament.

Q. This course obviously hasn't changed much since its had the tournament. Do you think this is a course that suits your game? Has that been reflected by performances in the past?
ALEX NOREN: Yeah, I've had good performances here, I think steady. I think the course sets up quite similar to Abu Dhabi last week, and it's quite windy.

I think one of my strengths last year was that I don't put too much pressure on myself and I don't -- here, you can hit -- since it's so windy, it's important to hit the greens. If you hit even a 9-iron to 30 feet, it's not that bad always. Just when it's really tough conditions, you can -- it's even more important to be nice to yourself and don't put too much pressure ongoing for every pin and stuff.

So maybe that's why I've been successful in the past to strategically work my way around this course. And then you have a lot of birdie opportunities, and trying to avoid making bogeys. In windy conditions, I think that's even more important.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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