Sandwich, England (July 17): It’s a measure of the man – and his ambition – that Noh Seung-yul cut a despondent figure as he departed Royal St George’s this afternoon.
Rarely one to betray his emotions, the 20-year-old Korean did not even try to conceal his disappointment after an unpalatable finale to his campaign at the 140th Open Championship.
“It’s my fault. I just made some silly mistakes,” said the refreshingly candid Noh, who dropped four shots in the final three holes. They were expensive errors, not just in terms of lost prize money but also because they prevented him from bettering his previous best Major result, a tie for 28th at last year’s US PGA Championship.
Noh signed for a three-over 73 which left him with an overall total of nine-over 289 in equal 30th position. It won’t be lost on him that three closing pars would have enabled him to return to the clubhouse with a 69 to his name and secured him a share of 16th, placing him as the joint best Asian with his compatriot YE Yang.
In mitigation, Noh had never before experienced such testing conditions, with driving rain and strong winds throughout a large portion of the final two rounds. For the most part he coped admirably and it will, no doubt, stand him in good stead for future challenges.
And there will be plenty of those with Noh already setting his sights on following in the footsteps of fellow-Korean Kim Bi-o and gaining a place on the US PGA Tour. “My main focus now for this year is to get through the US Qualifying School.”
Choi, for one, is certain that Noh has the game to compete in America and also at the Majors. “He has far more talent than I did at his age,” said Choi, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour and a mentor to Noh and many of the young Koreans making their way in the professional game.
Choi expects Noh and the likes of Bae Sang-moon and Kim Kyung-tae to flourish in the years ahead. “There are a lot of challenges that they will have to overcome but I believe over the next three to five years they will have a good opportunity to win Majors. That’s tremendous for Korea and for Asia,” he added.
FINAL-ROUND ASIAN STANDINGS
285 – YE Yang (KOR) 71-69-73-72
289 – Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 69-72-75-73
290 – Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 69-71-75-75
291 – KJ Choi (KOR) 71-72-75-73
304 – Hwang Jung-gon (KOR) 68-74-83-79
147 – Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-75
148 – Tadahiro Takayama (JPN) 70-78; Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 72-76; Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 75-73
151 – Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 76-75; Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 75-76; Hiroyuki Fujita (JPN) 75-76
152 – Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 75-77
153 – Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 76-77
154 – Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 74-80
155 – Hiroo Kawai (JPN) 75-80