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St Andrews: Rising Korean star Noh Seung-yul is banking on his father’s calming influence to help ensure a strong debut at the British Open starting on Thursday.
Unlike some teenagers, the 19-year-old Noh, currently top of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, is cool with the fact that his father-cum-caddie, Gu-huieun, is constantly giving out instructions in his pursuit for glory.
He is also keen to make a strong impact on the international stage, despite already owning two Asian Tour titles, and follow in the footsteps of fellow young guns Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
“I’ve aiming for a top-20 finish this week, or maybe better,” said Noh. “It’s good to have my father on my bag and this week, my mum and sister are also here. This is the first time they’ve travelled overseas to watch me play. We’ll have fun.”
Noh acknowledged he would not have come this far in his fledgling career without the support of his father. “When I take a shot, I have somebody to discuss it with. Psychologically, it is very comforting. It lets me play a better shot. When you are on Tour, you are alone most of the time but I am always with my father. It is very good,” said Noh.
The British Open will be his second straight Major appearance after he posted a tied 40th finish at the US Open in Pebble Beach last month. He finished one stroke back of Ishikawa while McIlroy missed the cut.
With the Majors being the goal of every aspiring golfer, Noh enjoyed a practice round with countryman and history-maker Y.E. Yang on Monday and tapped on the latter’s thoughts about winning a Major.
“Yang told me that we have to aim for wins in regular events and treat the Majors as another regular event. He was emphasising the need to be comfortable wherever we compete and it made sense to me,” said Noh.
His rise to prominence, at least in Asia, has been mercurial. As a seven-year-old, he started hitting golf balls at a beach near his home and it took only him 11 years to burst onto the Asian Tour scene in 2008 where he won the Midea China Classic and was named Rookie of the Year.
In March, he recorded a huge win in the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open by holding off boyhood idol and countryman K.J. Choi in the final round, thanks to a heroic closing birdie after playing a wonderful third.
Noh had his father on his bag in both victories. “My relationship with my father is no different from other kids,” he said. “It is impossible not to have any disagreements but we try to minimize it as much as we can. We are good for each other.”
The victory in Malaysia shot his confidence to a new level but Noh knows that only hard work and dedication will pave the way to greater success internationally.
With Yang setting a high standard with his triumph in the US PGA Championship and Choi achieving stardom with seven victories on the US PGA Tour, Noh does not need to look far for inspiration.
“They (Choi and Yang) started playing on Tour at a much later age than I did. But they have already achieved so much. So I feel certain that I can emulate them. It is my dream to be just as successful,” said Noh.

Asian Tour

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