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Singapore: Asia’s first Major champion Yang Yong-eun of Korea has predicted a bright future for young compatriot Noh Seung-yul ahead of the Barclays Singapore Open starting on Thursday.


Yang, also known as Y.E. Yang, made history by emerging as the first Asian golfer to win a Major at the US PGA Championship last year and he will be one of the main draw cards at the Sentosa Golf Club this week.


Noh, 19, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, will also be in the fray alongside title holder Ian Poulter, four-time Major champion Phil Mickelson of the United States and local hopes Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing at the US$6 million event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.


Yang, an Asian Tour honorary member, will be playing competitively for the third straight week and hopes to recover from a stiff neck to launch a title assault this week.


“I got tired in Shanghai and went into a deep sleep. I think I slept on my belly and turned my back to one position and kept it that way for a few hours. So when I woke up yesterday I had soreness and stiffness in the back of my neck.


“I’ve had some physiotherapy and hopefully it will get better. If the neck is not causing me any problems, I think I will play well,” said Yang, a two-time Asian Tour winner.


Yang showered praises on the talented Noh, who is aiming to be the youngest Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.


“He has a bright future if he can fortify his mental game and probably cope with the pressure a little bit better – not that I’m saying it is bad right now,” said Yang, who cut his professional teeth on the Asian Tour before rising to stardom.


“We have a good personal relationship and he hits the ball very far, much further than I like it some times! I guess it comes with youth. If he can sustain that kind of game coupled with a little bit of improvement on the mental side, he will be a much better player than I’m right now and will be astronomically better than I’m when he comes to my age,” Yang added.


Noh was delighted with the kind words from Yang, who he calls his “older brother” and said he has improved tremendously since winning the Malaysian Open in March. His confidence is also soaring after finishing in tied 16th place in Shanghai last week.


“I have played in many big tournaments this season and gained a lot of experience. My game has been good and I’m looking forward to this week,” said Noh.


“All the Korean players look up to Yang and he is a very kind person who always gives me tips on improving my technique. Mentally, Yang is very strong and he handles the pressure very well. He has always told me to strengthen my mental game and I’m working on that,” said the two-time Asian Tour champion.


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