NORMAN SEES BRIGHT FUTURE FOR NOH
Crans Montana, September 3: Australian legend Greg Norman has predicted a great future for Korea’s teen titan Noh Seung-yul after playing two rounds together at the Omega European Masters.
After watching the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader shoot a five-under-par 66 in the second round on Friday, Norman, who was this week announced as Omega’s newest brand ambassador, liked what he saw from the 19-year-old prodigy.
“He’s an impressive young player. He’s got a big future and I enjoyed my walk in the park with them,” said Norman, referring as well to clubhouse leader Edoardo Molinari of Italy.
Man-of-the-moment Molinari, who won last week’s Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland which earned him a Ryder Cup call-up, was also impressed with Noh. “He’s a hell of a player. It was definitely good fun out there playing with Greg and him,” said the Italian, who holds the clubhouse lead in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour event on 11-under-par 131.
The supremely talented Noh has continued to make heads turn this season, thanks largely to his victory at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March where he produced a sensational chip at the 72nd hole to set up his winning birdie against countryman K.J. Choi.
The Korean teenager, who grew up playing golf by the beach near Seoul, also finished 40th at the US Open at Pebble Beach and also impressed with a 28th place outing at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last month.
Noh said he enjoyed the opportunity of playing alongside Norman, a former world number one and winner of 91 titles around the world. “Greg is a former world number one, so I had a lot of good experience playing with them. I’m happy,” said Noh, who will enter the weekend five shots behind Molinari.
Noh added that Molinari was the obvious man to beat. “He hits it so straight and is a nice chipper and putter. I played with many players and I think he’s the number one short game player. I learned a lot from him as well,” said Noh.
“I’ll keep working hard for the weekend rounds. Putting is difficult here as the greens are difficult. But it was better for me than yesterday. I had more confidence today. It felt better.”
The Korean is determined to finish strongly at the €2 million (US$2.8 million) event to preserve his slender lead atop the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. He missed the cut at the stunning Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club, set amidst the Swiss Alps, last year but said he learned from his mistakes.
“Because of the high altitude, you get a bit more distance than other courses. Last year, I didn’t know how to handle the distances and kept hitting every shot over the green. It’s much better this week. I just take away 10% in my distances,” he said.
Norman shot a second straight 75 to miss the halfway cut.