Youngster Noh picks up 1st career PGA Tour win at Zurich Classic
Seung-Yul Noh celebrates with golfers Charlie Wi and Y.E. Yang and his caddy Scott Saitinac after his win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 26, 2014 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP)
Soon you’ll know.
That’s reportedly what Canadian swing coach Sean Foley would tell people about his young charge Seung-Yul Noh, the words obviously a play on the South Korean’s name.
And as it turns out, he was right: Now we know.
The 22-year-old Noh picked up his first career PGA Tour victory after playing the first 54 holes of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans without a bogey.
He got that out of the way early Sunday, bogeying the first hole, but he held up in strong Louisiana winds and brushed back all challengers, including major-winners Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose.
The Tour victory capped a somewhat meteoric rise for the youngster, who climbed from Asian Tour rookie of the year to the PGA in just four years. In 2010, he became the second-youngest European Tour winner with a victory at the Malaysian Open.
Noh, who grew up idolizing Tiger Woods -- hey, he wore a bright red shirt on Sunday -- gets mistaken on the golf course for fellow South Korean Kevin Na. He dines often with another one of his heroes, veteran countryman K.J. Choi, who also picked up his first victory in New Orleans.
It was not surprising Noh sought the help of Woods’ swing coach, Burlington, Ont.’s Foley, in 2012.
In a stable that includes Woods, Rose and Hunter Mahan, among others, Foley must have seen something in the youngster.
What is was, we now know: The kid has got game.
CURIOUS CASE OF PAUL CASEY
Paul Casey was on top of the world in 2009.
Well, close to it anyway, as he rose all the way to world No. 3 thanks to strong play on both the European and PGA Tours.
That year he won twice on the Euro and also picked up his first and only PGA victory at the Shell Houston Open.
But the Englishman also suffered the first in a string of injuries that summer, hurting a rib at the British Open that kept him from playing much. In 2011, it was turf toe that shelved him. And then just before the start of the 2012 season, Casey separated his shoulder in a snowboarding accident.
Now, Casey is playing his former champion reputation and he’s attempting to find his past form.
Coming into Sunday’s final round at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, which he was playing on a sponsor exemption, he was ranked 94th in the world.
Casey, once one of the game’s rising stars, is now 36 and fighting for starts in his attempt to reboot his career. A win last year at the Irish Open -- his 12th career European Tour victory -- did a lot for Casey’s confidence, but he’s still trying to find his way on this side of the pond.
“The last time I was in contention, really, well, in the U.S., it was 2010. I had a great year. I had a chance to win the FedExCup,” Casey said Saturday. “You know, I won in Ireland last year, so that was very much getting back on the bicycle, back on the horse last year. That was the first time I really had a good look at winning a golf tournament. I felt incredibly comfortable. I mean, I was nervous, had some good shots, hit some poor shots. But I’ve been lucky enough to win a number of events around the planet and … I know how to win a golf tournament."
For now, Casey knows he needs the good graces of sponsors to get into events, and when that happens, like this week, he needs to make the most of it.
His goal coming into New Orleans was to record a top-10 finish so he could get into next week’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.
“The goal for the week was top 10, because I’m not in Charlotte,” Casey said Saturday. “With my status out here, which is kind of a past champions category, I’m not getting into everything I’d like to get into and I’m on an invite this week, which I’m very thankful to Zurich for that.”
And the feeling is slowly coming back.
“I feel excited about my game,” Casey said. “I feel like I’m hitting the ball like I did back in ’09 when I won Shell in Houston.”
Agonizingly, Casey finished tied for 11th Sunday after he couldn’t birdie the 18th hole.
It’s a long road back, but Casey is confident he can get there.
“My goals are very, very lofty. The expectation is kind of there, but I’m certainly not going to rush anything. I’m just enjoying playing great golf.”
GOOD OLD DAYS
Happy birthday to Calgary’s Stephen Ames, who celebrates his 50th Monday.
With the big 5-0 comes Champions Tour eligibility and Ames told the Calgary Sun this week that he’s looking forward to the laid-back camaraderie the senior tour offers.
He's also still a member of the PGA Tour and plans to play a mixed schedule this season, competing in events on both tours, obviously aiming at the biggest events.
Ames has played in 12 events on the PGA Tour this season, making the cut in five and earning $125,985.
The 2006 Players Championship winner has four career victories, but hasn’t won since 2009. He is 691st on the official world golf ranking.
The most surprising news this week about Woods wasn’t that he and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn go on double-dates with his ex-wife Elin Nordegren and her billionaire beau. No, it was that Woods is reportedly looking to come back from back surgery for the British Open at Royal Liverpool, where he won in 2006. Seems a little early to be predicting a return from that type of surgery … Coming into Sunday, Bradley looked pretty good as a veteran amongst lesser-knowns. He started just two shots back of Noh in the final pairing but faded quickly on the front nine after a bogey on five and a damning triple on six. Bradley, who hasn’t won since the 2012 Bridgestone Invitational, hit his tee shot into the water on six, then uncharacteristically continued to make a mess of the hole … Jeff Overton is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour after 227 events.