Image from Asian Tour
IN- FORM NOH QUALIFIES FOR FIRST MAJOR AT THE BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP IFQ - ASIA
Noh Seung-yul completed a sensational run in Malaysia after qualifying for the British Open with Malaysia’s Danny Chia, Japanese Hiroyuki Fujita and amateur Eric Chun of Korea at the International Final Qualifying – Asia on Thursday.
Noh, winner of last week’s Maybank Malaysian Open, claimed one of the four tickets to the world’s oldest Major after closing with a four-under-par 68 in the tournament that was won by Fujita who signed off with a 66 for a two-day total of 11-under-par 133 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Chia shot a 68 to finish in tied second position alongside Noh on 134 and will make his third appearance in the British Open. Chun, who finished second at the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship in China last year, birdied his last hole to join the trio at St Andrews in July.
“I’m really happy but honestly it hasn’t settled in yet. It has been a great two weeks for me but I’m not going to let it get to my head,” said the 18-year-old Noh.
Noh romped home with two birdies on his last two holes and was delighted with his round except for a bogey on the 16th hole and is now relishing the opportunity to play in his first Major.
“I’m more experienced now after last week and that has certainly carried over to this week. I treat every tournament the same and I’m looking forward to playing against the world’s best,” added the Korean.
Chia got off to a bright start with an eagle two on the fourth hole when his drive landed 15 feet from the pin. He last played in the British Open in 2005, which was also held at St Andrews and in 2008.
He said that he felt confident going into the final three holes. “The thrill of returning to The Open started with three more holes to go. I always want to show my fans that I’m not going to crack at the pressure point and kept telling myself to keep calm and focus,” said Chia who has won once on the Asian Tour.
“A lot of things were going through my mind yesterday. I found it hard to sleep! I always try to prove myself in front of the home crowd that Malaysian professionals can make it into the next level in golf and I did that today,” added the Malaysian who mixed his round with an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys.
Fujita, the highest ranked player at 80th in the world, who also featured in the British Open in 2005 where he played in all four rounds, was delighted to top the qualifier courtesy of a flawless round highlighted by six birdies.
“My ball striking wasn’t really good but my putting helped a lot this week. There was a lot of good players here and I didn’t expect to win so I’m glad to be able to win it and of course to play in a Major again,” said the two-time Asian Tour winner.
Chun, who was on five-under alongside three other players going into the final hole, held his nerve to sink his birdie putt from four feet to claim the last ticket.
“I have never been so nervous in my life and I’m just happy it worked out well. I was really patient today and that was the key for me. Every putt I had out here these two days were as important as my last putt. All these other good putts led me to this opportunity.
“I haven’t played at St Andrews before or let alone been anywhere near there! So I’m looking forward to it. I’ve only seen it on television and heard about it so to play there is amazing,” said Chun who turned 20 on Monday.
The British Open will celebrate its 150th anniversary at the Old Course, St Andrews from July 15-18 this year.
Leading final round scores
133 - Hiroyuki FUJITA (JPN) 67-66
134 - NOH Seung-Yul (KOR) 66-68, Danny CHIA (MAS) 66-68
138 - Eric CHUN (A) (KOR) 67-71
Top-four qualify for The Open.
139 - KIM Dae-Hyun KOR 73-66, Keith HORNE (RSA) 73-66, Andrew DODT (AUS) 74-65
140 - HIDETO Tanihara (JPN) 72-68, Guido VAN DER VALK (HOL) 71-69
141 - Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN) 73-68, HAN Chang-Won (A) (KOR) 73-68
142 - LAM Chih-Bing (SIN) 73-69, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 69-73, David GLEESON (AUS) 74-68
143 - M.Sasidaran (MAS) 72-71, Miles TUNNICLIFF (ENG) 71-72
144 - Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS) 73-71, Mars PUCAY (PHI) 72-72, Yoshinobu TSUKADA (JPN) 72-72, LEE Sung (KOR) 70-74