SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Seung-yul Noh says he’s not very famous back home in Korea. That’s reserved for stars like K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang.
The 19-year-old Noh is lurking on the leaderboard at 5-under 139 after a 68 in his second round on Friday at the PGA Championship. Noh, who wants to known by his initials S.Y., will likely be somewhere near the top when Saturday’s third round begins, even though he insisted he isn’t looking at the leaderboard yet.
Noh hasn’t quite reached celebrity status in South Korea, but that may change with a strong performance at Whistling Straits.
“I don’t play much on the PGA Tour, so that’s why I’m not very famous back in Korea,” Noh said through an interpreter. “After this, maybe I’ll be famous.”
Maybe that’s not something he’ll want, either. Yang said after he won the PGA Championship last year, he needed six bodyguards for a trip back home and their clothes were in tatters after fans tried to get to Yang to celebrate their star.
This is Noh’s first PGA Championship after winning the Malaysian Open to make him the second youngest winner ever on the European Tour.
Noh started hitting golf balls near his home in Gangwando, South Korea, when he was 7 and had a strong amateur career before turning pro three years ago.
He declined to say he thinks he could win the tournament, but he’s got his style of play down pat. “I play fearless,” he said.
NOT SO FULL MONTY: Colin Montgomerie will have to wait until the second round is completed Saturday to find out whether he will finish in last place among 156 players. He shot an 83 on Friday afternoon and was at 18-over 162.
He was primarily entered as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, and that’s his focus – along with a flurry of reports about his personal life. Montgomerie was asked after he finished his first round 78 if he had prepared and what were his expectations.
“There weren’t. I couldn’t. I’m sorry,” he replied.
It was his fourth consecutive year at the PGA that he failed to break par.
All that boosted his spirits was the play of his potential team – Francesco Molinari a co-leader after the first round, Rory McIlroy playing well in another major.
One player who won’t be in Wales – and this is no surprise – is Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard, who has played every Ryder Cup since 1999, said last week he was taking a two-month break after the PGA Championship unless the Ryder Cup got in the way.
Asked if he could see Garcia on the team, Montgomerie replied, “At this stage, it is not looking likely, no.”
CLARKE’S RESTART: Darren Clarke was 3-under par, one shot out of the lead, when he left Whistling Straits on Thursday night with five holes left in his first round. He wound up at 2-over 74 and had no idea what went wrong.
Clarke had a 30-foot par putt for his first shot Friday, and knew bogey was likely.
Then came a missed tee shot on the 15th (bogey), a poor chip on the 16th (bogey) and a bad break in the bunkers on the par-3 17th, which led to a double bogey.
Clarke pulled his tee shot to the left and down the slope into a bunker. Someone had walked through it, and his ball wound up in a deep heel print.
“It was one of those that was supposed to be raked and someone had walked through it,” he said. “Just one of those mistakes. There are so many out here, they are going to miss one now and again. Just unfortunate I was the guy in it.”
He was lucky to move it a a few feet, chipped on and made double bogey.
“I was hoping for better, but that’s the way it is,” Clarke said. “I’d love to find an excuse, but I can’t.”
What about the heel print?
“A good shot doesn’t go down there,” he said. “A good shot goes on the green.”
DALY DONE: John Daly notified organizers late Friday that he would not be back Saturday after finishing the par-3 seventh hole because of a shoulder injury. He was 5 over in his second round to that point after shooting a 76 in his opening round Thursday.
Daly was in a group with Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III.
The 44-year-old Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship, earning a lifetime exemption to the event. He’s been cut or has withdrawn in 13 of the 17 appearances since his victory, never finishing higher than tied for 32nd place.
SLICK SLIDE: Keith Ohr needed a savvy slide to get out of a slick situation on the 11th hole in his second round Friday.
Ohr’s tee shot came to rest on the last foot of the left edge of the fairway at Whistling Straits and as he took a stance atop some railroad ties that wall a bunker about 10 feet below, he lost his balance. Ohr skillfully got both feet flat on the side of the ties, like a skier going backward, and landed on both feet.
He wasn’t hurt. He walked back up to the fairway, made sure he kept his balance on his second shot and continued on his way.
FAIR EXCHANGE: Phil Mickelson, aiming for the world’s No. 1 ranking, gained a fan despite his errant ways. Mickelson struck a fan on the 15th hole on Friday, immediately making amends.
He signed a glove writing “sorry” in capital letters and put a sad, frowning face inside the “O.” The man he hit had a big smile, and didn’t appear seriously injured.
DIVOTS: The fog has delayed the first two days of play a total of 5 hours, 56 minutes. … The first round ended at 1:02 p.m., more than 30 hours after it was scheduled to begin. … The scoring average in the first round was nearly a quarter of a stroke higher than the first round of the 2004 PGA Championship on the same course.