South Korean Seung-Yul Noh fought off challenges from several pursuers and 30 mph winds on Sunday to record a final-round 71 and get his first PGA win at the Zurich Classic in Avondale, LA. Noh ended the tournament at 19 under par—just one shot shy of the record score of 20 under set last year by Billy Horschel.
Noh wore black and yellow ribbons as a nod to his country, in mourning after the April 16 capsizing of a passenger ferry loaded with mainly schoolchildren off the south coast of Korea. At last count, 152 were confirmed dead from the tragedy and over 150 are still missing. “Hopefully, they will be happy,” Noh commented when asked how he thought his country would react to his win.
Andrew Svoboda and Robert Streb finished tied for second, two shots back at 17 under. Keegan Bradley, who began the day in second place and played in the final group with Noh, had a 75 on Sunday and finished tied for eighth with Tommy Gainey and Justin Rose at 13 under par.
The 22-year-old Noh began the day with a two-shot lead and ended the tournament winning by two shots, but much happened in-between. Before the final round, Seung-Yul Noh had become the first player ever to play the first three rounds at TPC Louisiana without a bogey. The pressure of making it four-straight bogey-free rounds was relieved Sunday on the first hole when Noh took a bogey-5 on the 399-yard par-4. His lead disappeared entirely when Bradley birdied the second hole to pull into a tie at 17 under. Bradley, however, would pick up a bogey on five, followed by the triple bogey at the sixth.
Seung-Yul Noh stayed the course, running off a string of pars before getting a birdie at the eighth hole and making the turn at even par for the day. He would make three birdies and two bogeys on the back nine, saving shot after shot with a short game that always seemed to come up big when he needed it. Upon holing his final putt at 18, Noh was doused with beer from his countryman K.J. Choi. The young South Korean did nothing to protect himself, holding out his arms and, literally, soaking it all in.
The win at the Zurich Classic is the first for Seung-Yul Noh in 77 tries on the PGA Tour. Before Sunday, he had never finished better than a tie for fourth. The win earned him over $1.2 million but, perhaps more importantly, earns him entries into the Player’s Championship in two weeks and the majors through next year’s Masters. After his round, Noh said that since he was seven years old he “always dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour,” and added “…especially the Masters.”
In the LPGA, Stacy Lewis could not hold on to her lead in the Swinging Skirt Classic in San Francisco. Lydia Ko of New Zealand fired a three-under par 69 in the final round on Sunday to beat Lewis by one shot. Ko was 12 under par for the tournament. Jenny Shin of South Korea finished third at 10 under par.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky