Image from Asian Tour
NOH STOPPING THIS TEEN TITAN
The sky is the limit for Korean teen titan and newly crowned Maybank Malaysian Open winner Noh Seung-yul, says countryman K.J Choi.
Noh showed composure beyond his young age of 18 to claim his second Asian Tour title and can now be regarded amongst the emerging group of young stars taking the world by storm.
Noh’s success was even sweeter as he defeated his idol and the illustrious Choi, a seven-time US PGA Tour winner, with an exceptional birdie on the final hole to bag the winner’s prize purse of US$333,330 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
His victory sky-rocketed him up to second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with earnings of US$346, 677 behind Avantha Masters winner Andrew Dodt of Australia who sits on top the pecking order on US$360,192.
Choi, an honorary Asian Tour member, tipped the young Korean to be a highly successful golfer in the future.
“He is one of the most powerful young talents coming up. The way that he controls and hits the ball is like no other and I think he has a very bright future. I feel like he is going to develop in all aspects and is going to be on the world stage. He has the heart for it but he has to keep working hard,” said Choi, who has made it a point to play practice rounds with Noh whenever he competes in Asia.
Noh could become Asia's youngest number one if he sustains his hot start to the year.
“It would be good if I can finish off the season as the champion of the Order of Merit but there’s a lot of time remaining until then. This victory opens up a lot of doors for me so I’ll see where it leads me,” said Noh.
The youngster made his debut on the Asian Tour in 2008 following a tied 24th place finish at the Qualifying School. He made an instant impact, chalking four top-10s and almost emerged as the youngest winner on the Asian Tour if not for a play-off defeat to compatriot Hwang Inn-choon at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on home soil.
He made amends with a maiden breakthrough at the Midea China Classic and was subsequently awarded with the Rookie of the Year award for his sparkling debut season.
In 2009, he claimed nine top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour and will be driven to pursue his target of winning US$1 million this season, in order to buy his first car.
“I just got my driver's license last year and I don’t have a car. I would borrow my mum’s car from time to time and my dad made a promise that if I won a million dollars, my parents would buy me a car. With this win, I would be halfway to achieving that goal so this gives me the motivation to play better,” smiled Noh, who started hitting golf balls at the beach near his house when he was seven.
Executive Chairman of the Asian Tour Kyi Hla Han was delighted with Noh’s victory, who is one of the many exciting talents to emerge from Asia.
“We had no fewer than four up-coming players winning last season while Noh is the second to step into the spotlight this year after Gaganjeet’s (Bhullar) victory at the Asian Tour International in Thailand,” said Han.
“There are many promising talents on the Asian Tour and Noh’s victory will be an inspiration to the up-coming generation to succeed on the international stage. We are succeeding in constantly building champions on the Asian Tour,” added Han.
Choi’s second place finish at the Maybank Malaysian Open puts him in third position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with earnings of US$222,220 while Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who finished third in Malaysia, is in fourth position on US$122,717.
The Asian Tour stays in Malaysia for this week's British Open International Final Qualifying Asia at Saujana Golf and Country Club. The two-day qualifier with four tickets up for grabs will start on Wednesday.
ORDER OF MERIT – TOP-20
1. Andrew DODT (AUS) $360,192
2. NOH Seung-yul (KOR) $346,677
3. K.J. CHOI (KOR) $222,220
4. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) $122,717
5. Rhys DAVIES (WAL) $118,557
6. Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN) $117,363
7. Jason KNUTZON (USA) $88,028
8. Rahil GANGJEE (IND) $65,881
9. Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) $60,150
10. Angelo QUE (PHI) $56,964
11. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) $55,000
12. LAM Chih Bing (SIN) $49,149
13. CHAN Yih-shin (TPE) $44,638
14. Darren BECK (AUS) $42,650
15. Chapchai NIRAT (THA) $40,310
16. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) $38,800
17. Hideto TANIHARA (JPN) $37,114
18. Mark BROWN (NZL) $35,850
19. LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) $35,424
20. Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) $32,725