By Andrew Alexander
As fellow South Korean players Y.E. Yang and Charlie Wi showered him with celebratory Bud Light on the 18th green and the New Orleans crowd rained down Mardi Gras beads from above, the newest Zurich Classic champion had no worries in the world.
On Sunday Seung-Yul Noh, at the young age of 22, became the seventh champion in the past 10 years to make the Zurich Classic in New Orleans their maiden victory on the PGA TOUR, and the fourth player under the age of 25 to have won on the TOUR this year.
Overcoming windy conditions at TPC Louisiana, Noh shot a 1-under 71, his worst round of the tournament, on Sunday to win the Zurich Classic by two shots, finishing with a 19-under 269 for the weekend.
“A lot of missed greens today, but heavy wind,” Noh explained.
More importantly Noh’s victory gave his nation something to rejoice about after the April 16 ferry accident that left 300 missing or dead.
“Hopefully, they’ll be happy,” said Noh, who honored the South Korean ferry accident victims with ribbon on his hat.
Noh was flirting with history entering Sunday. After playing the first 54 holes of the Zurich Classic bogey-free, Noh had the chance to become the first player in 40 years to win a tournament without hitting a bogey. In 2008, Noh entered the final day of an Asian Tour event with no bogeys.
That dream was quickly dashed when Noh bogeyed the first hole of the final day. But the drama ended there for Noh, who regained the lead by the third hole and never surrendered it.
Noh followed up his bogey on 1 with seven straight pars before hitting his first birdie of the day on 8. Additional birdies on 10, 13 and 16 offset the bogeys on 12 and 15.
With Robert Streb and Andrew Svoboda nipping at his heels, Noh sank a putt to par 17, essentially securing the victory.
“If I miss that putt it’s just one shot, so makes 18 a little easier because it’s not just one shot,” Noh said. “But made that putt and then two-shot lead.”
Sunday’s win gives Noh victories on four tours now, including the Asian Tour, European Tour and Web.com Tour. Noh’s victory also earned him a spot in The Players Championship, 2014 PGA Championship, 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and 2015 Masters.
“Dream come true when I started at seven playing golf,” Noh said smiling. “I dreamed of playing like a top 10 player or playing any major, especially the Masters.”
Former LSU Tiger David Toms shot an 11-under 277, tying for 15th with Ben Martin.
“I didn’t hit every shot great but scrambled nicely and just hung in there and shot a good score,” Toms explained. “Maybe one of these days I can try to contend here.”
Toms was the highest finisher among former Bayou Bengal golfers.
Andrew Loupe finished with a 3-under 285 at 52nd, while John Peterson and Louisiana native Patrick Reed failed to make the 2-under cut.