NOH SHOWS METTLE AT OMEGA EUROPEAN MASTERS
Crans Montana, Switzerland, September 4: So far so good for Noh Seung-yul.
The Korean star, leader of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, charged into tied seventh place with a solid four-under-par 67 in the third round of the Omega European Masters on Saturday.
His superb effort also helped him maintain his edge over closest pursuer Marcus Fraser of Australia in the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit race.
The 19-year-old phenom fired an eagle, six birdies and four bogeys in the €2 million (US$2.8 million) event jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Fraser, who trails Noh by about US$6,000 on the Order of Merit, carded a 68 to lie two shots back with one round to play on Sunday.
After swapping two birdies against two bogeys on his outward nine, Noh showed why he is one of Asia’s rising stars with a scintillating back nine which included four birdies and one eagle for a three-day total of nine-under-par 204, eight shots behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Shot of the day came on the par five 14th when he smashed a five iron from 225 yards to four feet for his three. “That was a good shot,” he smiled.
Winner of the Maybank Malaysian Open this year, Noh knows he must stay ahead of Fraser after the Omega European Masters. “I know Marcus is playing the next two tournaments on the Asian Tour (Handa Singapore Classic and Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei), so maybe he will pass me on the rankings,” said Noh, who has earned just over US$500,000 this year.
“It’s not important to be in the lead now as there are many more big prize money events coming up at the end of the year.”
The difference in Noh’s round was the putter. On the front nine, he kept burning the edges of the cup but comfortably holed out when opportunities came knocking on the door, thanks to some crisp iron play.
“I felt the same during the round. The putts just went in on the back nine,” said Noh.
Fraser was under no illusion that he would need to produce his best golf over the coming months to become the first Australian to win the Asian Tour’s number one tag.
“Hopefully I am there or there-abouts at the end of the year but Noh will be pretty hard to beat as he’s pretty impressive. It’s going to be hard to take someone with his calibre down,” said Fraser, whose 68 included five birdies and two bogeys.
With the amiable Australian heading to Asia to compete in five events over the coming weeks, starting with next week’s inaugural Handa Singapore Classic, he could do enough to usurp Noh from the summit, albeit temporarily.
“I’m really looking forward to coming out to Asia. I’m in Singapore next week and I’ve never been to Taipei,” said Fraser, who won the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea in April.
“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. I’ve not been watching his scores this week and I’m sure he’s not watching mine as well. A player his calibre will certainly be hard to beat.”