Noh hopes to emulate hero Choi

After edging out KJ Choi at the Malaysian Open, Noh Seung-yul has set his sights on emulating his childhood idol.

South Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul has set his sights on emulating childhood idol KJ Choi after edging out his veteran compatriot by one shot at the Maybank Malaysian Open on Sunday.

Aged just 18 years and nine months, Noh, the second youngest winner in European Tour history, crucially birdied the final hole to card a final-round four-under-par 68 and top the leaderboard at 14 under

This after brilliantly keeping his cool on the final hole following a wild drive that landed on the wrong fairway and an approach shot that settling on a bricked pathway.

Even after Noh had taken his time selecting the best spot for a free drop off the pathway at the Kuala Lumpur G&CC, he was left with a mountain to climb, having to chip from a narrow peice of turf that sloaped away from him.

But somehow, under grinding pressure, he kept his composure and answered the call with a magnificent chip that left him with not much more a tap-in birdie for victory.

It was an amazing finish to a tense day that started with at least half-a-dozen antogists fighting for the title, each one in with a chance of taking it.

For one so young it was astonishing

The only younger player to have won on the circuit is Korean-born New Zealand amateur Danny Lee.
He did it at last year’s Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia. He was 18 years six months at the time.
Noh was playing his 13th European Tour event. His debut came in China when he was 16 – and he finished eighth that week.
The title came with a cheque for £220,000 and gives Noh, already an Asian Tour winner at the 2008 Midea China Classic, a two-year European Tour exemption.
“It is more special than my first win after competing with some of the best players in the world.
“Beating someone I have looked up to in KJ makes it even more special.
“KJ has been a role model for me. I have been looking up to KJ since I was in junior golf, when he was at the peak of his career winning tournaments worldwide. He has given me a lot of advice and that will help me on the world stage.”
Noh will next turn his attention to the British Open Asian qualifier which starts in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday before weighing up his options now that he is in possession Japan, Asian and now Europe Tour cards.
Whichever route he takes, though, America is his ultimate goal wher he hopes to follow in the footsteps of seven-time US PGA Tour winner Choi.
“My plan is to play in Japan and the big tournaments in Asia, as I need to gain more experience on the bigger stages, with my ultimate goal being to qualify for the PGA Tour through Q-School,” the world number 266 said.
“With my win I get my status on the European Tour so this might change some of my plans. If I split my time between Japan and Europe it will be a good experience. My plan is to play as many global events as possible and playing worldwide will set a foundation for me in securing a playing spot on the US Tour.”
Choi, who last won in Malaysia in October, held a one-shot lead at the midway point of the final round after chipping in on the ninth green but was ultimately made to pay for a wayward tee shot on the 17th.
“I’m not disappointed at all. I played well and tried my best. My hat’s off to Seung-yul, he played well and had a fantastic round,” said world number 96 Choi.
“He is one of the most powerful young talents coming up. The way that he controls and hits the ball is like no other and I think he has a very bright future.
“I feel like he is going to develop in all aspects and in the near future he is going to be on the world stage.”
Joint overnight leaders Rhys Davies (71) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (71) and Soren Hansen (70) all missed lengthy birdie putts at the last to finish tied for third at 12-under-par.
Danny Willett posted a second consecutive 68 over the weekend to claim sixth, a further shot off the pace, while Swede Johan Edfors (71) and Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee (71) finished tied for seventh at 10-under-par.