Noh refuses to wilt, take first PGA Tour triumph

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm •  Published: April 27, 2014
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AVONDALE, La. (AP) — As Seung-Yul Noh exhaled and tilted his head back in a skyward gaze on the 18th green, fellow South Korean players Y.E. Yang and Charlie Wi charged toward him, spraying him with bottled beer.

Noh smiled, removed his hat, held both arms out and soaked it all in.

The 22-year-old overcame windy conditions and the pressure that goes with attempting to secure a maiden PGA Tour triumph, shooting a 1-under 71 on Sunday to win the Zurich Classic by two shots.

He also knew he achieved another goal of providing some joy to a nation that has been reeling since a passenger ship capsized April 16, leaving 300 missing or dead.

"Hopefully, they'll be happy," said Noh, who wore black and yellow ribbons on his white golf hat to honor victims of the ferry accident.

While Noh, the leader through three rounds, never fell out of first, he did make his first three bogeys of the tournament and briefly fell into a tie with Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner who had the gallery behind him.

But Bradley did himself in with a bogey on the fifth hole and a triple bogey on the sixth.

"I actually played pretty well," Bradley said. "Just made one bad swing on 6 and had a bunch of lip-outs."

Noh remained steady enough— even with wind gusting up to 30 mph — to hold off the remaining challengers.

"Very challenging today out there, especially playing with Keegan, a major champion, and heavy wind," Noh said.

Noh needed a few clutch shots on the back nine, including a chip out of a grassy downhill lie on the edge of a bunker on 13, which hit the flag on a bounce, setting up a routine birdie putt. On 16, with wind in his face, Noh landed his approach 3 feet from the hole to set up his last birdie, then made a 14-foot par putt on 17 to assure a two-shot cushion on the final hole, uncharacteristically pumping his first afterward.

"Yeah, that was a clutch putt," Noh said, explaining that it left him "very comfortable" on 18.

Noh had made 77 previous PGA Tour starts, never finishing better than tied for fourth at the 2012 AT&T National.

He took the third-round lead in New Orleans while becoming the first to play 54 holes at TPC Louisiana without a bogey. The seventh first-time PGA Tour winner in the last 10 years in the New Orleans event, Noh finished at 19-under 269 and earned $1,224,000. He was playing for the first time with caddie Scott Sajtinac, who seemed awe struck by Noh's combination of talent, wisdom and sense of calm for a player so young.

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