Noh takes first PGA Tour title at Zurich Classic

By Associated PressApril 27, 2014, 10:32 pm

AVONDALE, La. – As Seung-Yul Noh exhaled and tilted his head back in a skyward gaze on the 18th green, his South Korean countryman and fellow PGA Tour player, Y.E. Yang, charged toward him, spraying him with bottled beer.

Noh smiled, removed his hat, held both arms out and soaked it all in.

The 22-year-old overcame windy conditions and the pressure that goes with attempting to secure a maiden PGA Tour triumph, shooting a 1-under 71 on Sunday to win the Zurich Classic by two shots.

He also knew he achieved another goal of providing some joy to a nation that has been reeling since a passenger ship capsized April 16, leaving 300 missing or dead.


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''Hopefully, they'll be happy,'' said Noh, who wore black and yellow ribbons on his white golf hat to honor victims of the ferry accident.

While Noh, the leader through three rounds, never fell out of first, he did make his first three bogeys of the tournament and briefly fell into a tie with Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner who had the gallery behind him.

But Bradley did himself in with a bogey on the fifth hole and a triple bogey on the sixth.

''I actually played pretty well,'' Bradley said. ''Just made one bad swing on 6 and had a bunch of lip-outs.''

Noh remained steady enough- even with wind gusting up to 30 mph - to hold off the remaining challengers.

''Very challenging today out there, especially playing with Keegan, a major champion, and heavy wind,'' Noh said.

Noh needed a few clutch shots on the back nine, including a chip out of a grassy downhill lie on the edge of a bunker on 13, which hit the flag on a bounce, setting up a routine birdie putt. On 16, with wind in his face, Noh landed his approach 3 feet from the hole to set up his last birdie, then made a 14-foot par putt on 17 to assure a two-shot cushion on the final hole, uncharacteristically pumping his first afterward.

''Yeah, that was a clutch putt,'' Noh said, explaining that it left him ''very comfortable'' on 18.

Noh had made 77 previous PGA Tour starts, never finishing better than tied for fourth at the 2012 AT&T National.

He took the third-round lead in New Orleans while becoming the first to play 54 holes at TPC Louisiana without a bogey. The seventh first-time PGA Tour winner in the last 10 years in the New Orleans event, Noh finished at 19-under 269 and earned $1,224,000. He was playing for the first time with caddie Scott Sajtinac, who seemed awe struck by Noh's combination of talent, wisdom and sense of calm for a player so young.

''He's going to be good,'' Sajtinac said. ''He was unflappable. You need to be unflappable to win on the PGA Tour.''

Andrew Svoboda and Robert Streb tied for second. Svoboda had a 69. Streb shot 70, including an eagle on the second hole, and was one shot off the lead after a birdie on 8, but his tee shot was pushed into water by a crosswind on the par-3 ninth hole, and he made double-bogey.

Jeff Overton, who briefly pulled within a stroke of Noh on the back nine, had a 70 to finish fourth at 16 under.

Bradley wound up with a 75 to tie for eighth at 13 under.

On Saturday, Bradley worked his way into the final group, two strokes behind Noh, with a 65.

Bradley was within a stroke after the first hole Sunday, which saw Noh hit his drive into mulch right of the fairway en route to his first bogey. Bradley then birdied the par-5 second hole to tie Noh.

But just a few holes later, Bradley missed a par putt from less than 2 feet, and followed that up by hitting his drive into the water on No. 6. Then, he three-putted to complete a pivotal two-hole stretch in which he dropped four strokes.

While Bradley never recovered from his front-nine falter, Noh still had to ward off a challenge from Overton, who was one stroke back after his 20-foot birdie putt on 10.

Overton, however, bogeyed 11 when he hit his drive into a bunker left of the fairway and his second shot over the fairway and right of the cart path.

Noh, meanwhile, has the victory he needed to get into The Players Championship next month, and his first Masters next spring.

''Dreams come true,'' Noh said. ''When I started at 7 playing golf, I dreamed of always playing (on the) PGA Tour ... or playing any major, especially the Masters.''

Divots: Robert Garrigus, who narrowly made the cut Friday, had the best score Sunday with a 64. The round included a 374-yard drive with a tail wind on 18, which he birdied to tie for fifth at 14 under, along with two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton. Garrigus, who would have earned nothing had he been one stroke worse during the first two rounds, took home $248,200. ... Ben Martin, who shot a course-record 62 in the first round and was 14 under through 22 holes, was 3 over on the last 50 holes. He tied for 15th with David Toms.

After Further Review: Whan deserves major credit

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 11:18 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Mike Whan's really, really good idea ...

If LPGA commissioner Mike Whan hasn’t earned a gold star yet for creating the Race to the CME Globe four years ago, he deserves one now. The race’s finish at the CME Group Tour Championship has become a spectacular fireworks show. Stacy Lewis said it best on Saturday. She said the pressure the top players feel at CME is the “worst” those players feel all year, and by that she meant the “most intense,” the kind that makes for the best weeks.

You can argue there’s more pressure on the top women at the CME than there is in a major. The Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring, the Rolex world No. 1 ranking and the money-winning title all seem to come down to this final week, when there’s also the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot up for grabs. You have to think the weight of all that might have had something to do with Lexi Thompson missing that 2-footer at Sunday’s end. She came away with the Vare Trophy and $1 million jackpot as nice consolation prizes. We all came away thrilled by Ariya Jutanugarn’s birdie-birdie finish amid the gut-wrenching drama. - Randall Mell


On Austin Cook's improbable winner's journey ...

Despite becoming a Monday qualifying sensation on the PGA Tour in 2015, Austin Cook still had to head to Web.com Tour Q-School that winter. There he collapsed over his final four holes to blow a chance at full status, and one year later the cancellation of the Web.com Tour Championship because of Hurricane Matthew left him $425 short of a PGA Tour card.

But Cook put to rest all of his recent near-misses with four days of nearly flawless golf at Sea Island. Now he’s headed to Augusta National in April and exempt through 2020, afforded ample time to look back at how tough breaks in the past helped to shape his unique journey to the winner’s circle. - Will Gray

On what Cook's win says about PGA Tour depth ...

Players talk regularly about the depth of talent on the PGA Tour, claiming that anyone in a particular field can come away with a trophy on any given week.

To prove the point, Austin Cook, No. 306 in the Official World Golf Ranking, rolled over the field at the RSM Classic with rounds of 66-62-66-67 for a four-stroke victory. Before Sunday at Sea Island Resort, Cook’s only triumph in a professional event was at a mini-tour winter series tournament. That payday was $5,000.

His victory at the RSM Classic was worth considerably more and proved, yet again, the depth of the modern game. - Rex Hoggard

Snedeker feels close to 100 percent after RSM week

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:09 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Even if the result – a tie for 29th place – wasn't exactly what Brandt Snedeker is accustomed to, given his journey back from injury he’ll consider his final regular-season start of 2017 a success.

Snedeker had been sidelined with a sternum injury since June and overhauled his swing with the help of his coach John Tillery in an attempt to alleviate future injury. Needless to say, his expectations at the RSM Classic were low.

After starting the week with back-to-back rounds of 67 to move into contention, Snedeker wasn’t as sharp on the weekend, but he was still pleased with his week.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


“It was great to see how my swing held up and the golf course toughen up today and the changes we made. Inevitably you kind of revert back to what’s comfortable and natural,” he said. “But now my body feels good. I was shocked. I thought I’d be close to 75 percent this week and felt closer to 100 [percent]. Hopefully it continues to stay that way.”

Snedeker said he has a busy schedule planned for early next season on the West Coast and also plans to play next month’s QBE Shootout.

“Every time I’ve come back from injury I’ve been kind of like, well I’m close but not quite there,” said Snedeker, who added that he was pain-free for the entire week. “This is the first time I’ve come back and been like it’s there.”

Cook hopes RSM win starts a ROY campaign

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook cruised to his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the RSM Classic, a nearly flawless performance that included just two bogeys for the week and a 21-under total.

Earlier in the week, Cook’s caddie Kip Henley said Cook was playing the most effortless golf he’d ever witnessed. But as is so often the case, it can be tough to tell what is really going on inside a player's mind.

“A lot of stuff going on, especially up here,” Cook laughed pointing at his head. “A little tenseness. This week my ball-striking was great, and for the most part my putting was great as well. All around my game was just incredible this week.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Following a bogey at the second hole on Sunday that cut his lead to two shots, the rookie responded with a birdie at the seventh hole and added three more over his final four holes to beat J.J. Spaun by four strokes.

It was a timely victory for a player who has set rather lofty goals for himself.

“My goal coming into the year was to win Rookie of the Year and I’ve gotten off to a good start. Now my goal is to make a long deep run into the FedExCup playoffs,” he said.

Cook became the second consecutive rookie winner of the RSM Classic following Mac Hughes’ victory last year.

Rookie Cook cruises to first title, Masters invite

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 9:57 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook was chased by proven PGA Tour winners all day at the RSM Classic.

Now the Arkansas player is one of them.

The PGA Tour rookie held off veterans Brian Gay, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman on Sunday at the chilly, windy Sea Island Club's Seaside Course.

Cook closed with a 3-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over J.J. Spaun. The victory in the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year gave Cook a spot in the Masters next year.

''It was definitely exciting ... real brutal with the wind,'' Cook said. ''I got off to a slow start but I was able to keep my head level and know there was a lot of golf to be played. With the wind and those conditions, a lot could happen.''

Cook birdied three of his last four holes after the three-shot lead he began the day with slipped to one over Spaun. Cook made a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to finish at 21-under 261.

Spaun shot a 66.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Gay, the oldest contender of the week at 45, eagled the par-4 18th hole from 161 yards with a 9-iron to break out of a five-way tie for third and finish at 16 under. He shot 68.

Kirk (71) and Kisner (68), past winners of the tournament, St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman (65) and Andrew Landry (67) tied for fourth at 14 under.

Cook, the 26-year-old from Little Rock, earned $1,116,000 and improved to third on the FedEx Cup points list.

It's the second year in a row that a rookie won the RSM Classic. Mac Hughes survived a five-way playoff to capture the title last year in a Monday finish.

Spaun, a stocky former University of San Diego player, made the biggest move of the day and twice cut Cook's lead to one shot - the last time on an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-4 16th.

However, Spaun bogeyed No. 17 when he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker, and Cook birdied No. 15 with a 4-footer and No. 17 with a 15-footer to seal the victory.

Spaun's birdie at No. 16 could have put him into a tie for the lead but he missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on the previous hole.

''That (Spaun's miss at No. 15) was big,'' said Cook, who said he's an obsessive leaderboard-watcher and knew exactly when Spaun had come within a shot.

Cook, who has Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley, carrying his bag, never slipped after a bogey at the second hole, just his second of the week. He missed only two fairways in the final round and made par after four of his five missed greens. He led the field in scrambling, converting 11 of 12 pars after missing greens, and tied for fourth by hitting 48 of 56 fairways.

''With Kip on the bag, he was able to keep me in the moment and keep me pressing instead of playing conservative,'' Cook said. ''There was a lot of stuff going on, mostly up here (tapping his head). My ball-striking was great and for the most part, my putting was great. Holding the nerves down, playing a good round in these conditions. ... I'm so happy.''