Photo - Asian Tour
TEEN PHENOM NOH RESUMES MERIT CHASE AT OMEGA EUROPEAN MASTERS
Crans Montana, Switzerland: Korean teen titan Noh Seung-yul will resume his quest for a slice of Asian Tour history when he competes in the Omega European Masters starting on Thursday.
The current Order of Merit leader is confident of maintaining his slim lead at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club where he will go head-to-head with second ranked Marcus Fraser of Australia as well as Europe’s leading lights.
Asia’s top guns including reigning Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, two-time Merit champion Jeev Milkha Singh of India and this season’s winners Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, Filipino Angelo Que, Bangladesh’s Siddikur and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg will also compete in the €2 million (approximately US$2.8 million) showpiece which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
The 19-year-old Noh is bidding to become the youngest Asian Tour number one and knows he must keep his foot on the pedal as the region’s elite circuit heads into its business-end of the season.
“I’m looking forward to playing (in the Omega European Masters),” said Noh, victorious at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March. “It is my goal to win the Order of Merit title on the Asian Tour and I will try my best.”
With US$503,916 already in the bank, Noh leads Fraser, winner of the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea, by just over US$6,000 while Andrew Dodt of Australia trails in third place by over US$180,000.
Noh conceded that the prestigious Order of Merit race was far from a two-man battle. An approximate top prize of US$470,000 is available at the Omega European Masters and a string of other lucrative events will be played in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and India over the coming months.
The young Korean, though, is in confident mood following a strong performance at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits where he battled into contention before finishing tied 28th in the year’s fourth and final Major.
It was the second time he had made the weekend rounds at a Major following his tied 40th finish at the US Open in June and naturally, Noh is upbeat of more success ahead.
“I don’t play much on the PGA Tour so that is why I’m not famous in Korea. After this, maybe I’ll be famous,” said Noh, the 2007 Asian Tour’s Rookie of the Year where he won the Midea China Classic.
“I won the Maybank Malaysian Open (this year) and that has given me a lot of confidence. I want to follow K.J. Choi and I have done well this season. I have had a lot of good finishes this year and that gives me confidence to do well.”
British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Australian legend Greg Norman will headline the field at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. In 2009, the Omega European Masters became the first tournament on European soil to be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.