New Orleans, United States: Long touted as a star in the making, Noh Seung-yul came of age with his victory in the US PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Ranked 176th in the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the week, the 22-year-old Korean, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, stood firm during the final round at TPC Louisiana.
Thanks to a closing round of one-under 71 he finished two shots clear of Americans Andrew Svoboda and Robert Streb to claim his maiden PGA Tour title with a four-day total of 19-under 269.
In so doing, not only is Noh the youngest winner on the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season, but he’s just the fifth Korean golfer to win on the PGA Tour, following in the footsteps of KJ Choi, YE Yang, Kevin Na and Bae Sang-moon.
With his win, Noh moved to 16th in FedEx Cup points standings and earned starts in The Players Championship, the PGA Championship and next year’s Masters.
Noh struggled with his game last season, finishing 160th in the FedEx Cup standings and having to regain his card at the Web.com Tour finals. “The whole last season was a very good experience for my game, especially mental. My mental game is stronger (after last season). So I’m never nervous,” said Noh, who wore yellow and black ribbons on his hat to honour the more than 300 dead or missing in the Seoul ferry disaster
After Noh holed out for victory, fellow-Koreans Charlie Wi and Yang ran out on the 18th green to celebrate their friend’s win with a beer shower. Yang had been scheduled to take a 6:30 pm flight, but came back to celebrate with Noh.
Wi said: “I know he struggled last year, but for him to bounce back this year, that’s what golf is all about. I thought his demeanour today was awesome. I would have been rattled and nervous, but he sure didn’t look that way.”
Noh is the first player from a country outside of the United States or Australia to win on the PGA TOUR this season.
“He was unflappable,” said caddie Scott Sajtinac, who was in his first week working with Noh. “He was calm 100 per cent today. Even to the point where he laughed a little bit. I hadn’t seen him laugh the whole week.”