Kuala Lumpur: Korean teen sensation Noh Seung-yul of Korea knows he must rise to the occasion once again if he is to successfully defend his title at the Maybank Malaysian Open starting on Thursday.
The reigning Asian Tour number one faces a stern test at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club as three Major champions - Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, world number one Martin Kaymer of Germany and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa - are in this week’s star-studded field.
After becoming the youngest Order of Merit champion last season, the supremely talented Noh believes he has what it takes to outscore the elite field gathered in the US$2.5 million showpiece which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
“I played with Martin when I was an amateur and also at the WGC-Accenture Match Play before he became world number one. I also played with Charl last year so I’m not nervous playing with them. I’m looking forward to it,” said Noh, who will play with newly crowned Masters winner Schwartzel and British Open champion Oosthuizen in the opening two rounds.
A finger injury sustained in March has been his only concern as he attempts to become the first Asian Tour player to successful defend a title this year.
“I had a finger injury (before the WGC-Cadillac Championship) and it still hurts. For now, I’m not focussed on winning yet but I’m concentrating on getting back into shape,” said the two-time Asian Tour winner.
Noh’s quest for greatest has led him to world renowned swing guru Butch Harmon. The Korean teen started working with Harmon, who was Tiger Wood’s first coach, in February.
“Previously, my ball flight was more like a fade but now it is more towards a draw and I’m still adapting to the changes. Hopefully it will work for me this week,” said the 19-year-old.
Other stars at the Maybank Malaysian Open, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week, include world number nine Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Thai star Thongchai Jaidee and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh. Current Order of Merit leader S.S.P. Chowrasia is also in the field at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com