Noh Seung-yul, at age 18, earned his first-ever European Tour victory and a spot in the Open Championship in a matter of a few days. (Getty Images)
Korean teen sensation Noh among four earning Open berths via Asian qualifier
Only days after he won the Maybank Malaysian Open, Korean teenage sensation Noh Seung-yul claiming a spot at St. Andrews in a two-day, 36-hole qualifier in Malaysia. Amateur Eric Chun also nailed down a spot.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (PA Sport) -- Noh Seung-yul made it a week to remember after the Korean teenager followed up his Maybank Malaysian Open victory last Sunday by claiming a spot in the Open Championship on Thursday.
The 18-year-old carded a 4-under-par 68 on the final day of the two-day, 36-hole Asian edition of International Final Qualifying (IFQ) at Saujana Golf and Country Club to finish 10 under, even with Danny Chia and one shot behind event winner Hiroyuki Fujita from Japan. Korean amateur Eric Chun secured the fourth and final guaranteed spot at St. Andrews available for the 72 players in the field.
"I'm really happy but honestly it hasn't settled in yet," said Noh. "I'm not going to let it get to my head.
"I'm more experienced now after last week and that has certainly carried over to this week," he added. "I treat every tournament the same and I'm looking forward to playing against the world's best."
Two birdies over the final two holes saw Noh book a place at his first-ever major after a bogey at the 16th threatened to scupper his bid.
Fujita, who made the cut at the 2005 Open at St. Andrews, turned in a blemish-free 66 that featured six birdies to follow up Wednesday's 67 and seal his slot at St Andrews.
"My ball striking wasn't really good but my putting helped a lot this week," he said. "There was a lot of good players here and I didn't expect to win so I'm glad to be able to win it and of course to play in a major again."
Local hero Chia collected an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in his 68.
"I always try to prove myself in front of the home crowd that Malaysian professionals can make it into the next level in golf and I did that today," he said.
Meanwhile, Chun, who finished second at the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship in China last year to earn a place in this competition, was even with five other players on 5 under starting the final hole, but showed nerves of steel to sink a four-foot birdie putt for a 71 and grab the final spot without a playoff.
"I have never been so nervous in my life and I'm just happy it worked out well," said the 19-year-old. "I was really patient today and that was the key for me. Every putt I had out here these two days were as important as my last putt. All these other good putts led me to this opportunity.
"I haven't played at St Andrews before or let alone been anywhere near there," he added. "So I'm looking forward to it."
International Final Qualifying (IFQ) events were introduced in 2004 and are held on five continents to give more players from around the world the chance to gain direct entry into golf's oldest championship.
The African and Australasian IFQ events took place in January. The remaining events are set for May 24 at Gleneagles in Plano, Texas; and June 7 at Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England.