Image from Asian Tour
BOONCHU AND NOH UNDERLINE STRENGTH OF ASIAN TOUR
In two glorious weeks, the strength and depth of the Asian Tour was showcased once more to the golfing world and two stars - amazingly separated by 35 years in age - came to the forefront for the growing region.
Korean teen titan Noh Seung-yul and Thai veteran Boonchu Ruangkit sparkled with outstanding victories which made headlines around the globe and their success were simply footprints that underscored the successful platform and impact of the player-led Asian Tour.
Noh, 18, defeated his idol and mentor K.J. Choi, himself an honorary member of the Asian Tour, at the Maybank Malaysian Open two weeks ago after pulling off an extraordinary last-hole birdie where he was never once on the 18th hole fairway.
Four days later, the 18-year-old, the Asian Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2008, rode on the crest of wave to secure a place at the British Open through qualifying for his maiden Major appearance.
In contrast, the highly-respected Boonchu, who was given the honour of striking the opening tee shot on the Asian Tour when it was founded in 2004 and still effervescent at the age of 53, produced record-breaking performances in winning back-to-back European Senior Tour tournaments held in Brunei and Thailand, where his winning tally of 21-under-par on home soil over three rounds was the lowest on the circuit.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han lauded the winning performances of the dynamic duo, saying it reflected strongly on the vast talent available in the region’s leading golf Tour.
“I want to congratulate Boonchu and Noh for their outstanding victories as they underlined the growing strength of Asian golf. They represent the opposite ends of the spectrum due to their age difference but obviously share one thing in common which is the ability to win at the highest level,” said Han.
“They will no doubt inspire their peers to achieve success. At 18, Noh is showing maturity well beyond his years and it is gratifying for us to see him win his second Asian Tour victory as he has come through our system and made full use of his playing opportunities to stamp his mark.”
Noh’s inspirational run is one of the many stories which have been well scripted over the years on the Asian Tour and he believes his success will only pave the way for other young Asian golfers to follow in his footsteps.
“After I graduated from the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2008, many of my friends signed up for Qualifying School in the following season because they believed that if I could earn my Tour card, so could they,” said Noh.
“Now that I have won my second title and qualified for my first Major tournament, I hope that I will continue to inspire them and other Korean golfers to chase their dream.”
While Noh’s career continues to blossom, Boonchu is still showing lots of mileage left in his golf game that has spanned over two decades, which includes five Asian Tour victories.
The duo’s winning performances are amongst the highlights of the 2010 Asian Tour season thus far. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Andrew Dodt of Australia have also underlined their star quality by winning the season-opening Asian Tour International in Thailand and Avantha Masters in India respectively.
Asian Tour great Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, winner of an unprecedented three Order of Merit titles, has set the benchmark for the rest to emulate in recent times and the world’s 43rd ranked player believes Asia’s young guns will continue to show their firepower.
“I’m very proud to see how the Asian Tour has grown and see the emergence of many young talents. I hope I can set an example to the new generation of players and one day see more the Asian Tour players in the world’s top-50 or even winning a Major tournament,” said Thongchai.
The Asian Tour’s next stop is the SAIL Open in India from March 30 to April 2 (Tuesday to Friday) followed by the Air Bagan Myanmar Open presented by IBTC from April 8 to 11.