Noh keeps Korean flag flying high at PGA

Seung-yul Noh of South Korea during the second round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Seung-yul Noh of South Korea during the second round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (USA) – Hopes of keeping the Wanamaker Trophy in Seoul remained alive on the second day of the weather-affected U.S. PGA Championship.

But the identity of the man who is leading the South Korean charge is a surprise. It is neither defending champion Y.E. Yang nor K.J. Choi, a seven-time PGA Tour winner.

The center of attention is on teenager Seung-yul Noh, who continued to defy his tender years with a display of commendable composure at Whistling Straits, justifying the late special exemption he received for the tournament.

Adding a 1-under-par 71 to his opening 68, the 19-year-old finished the second round in share of third place at 5-under 139, just three shots off the pace set by American Matt Kuchar.

Nick Watney, another American, has sole possession of second place at 137, while Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and England’s Simon Khan are a further shot back alongside Noh and the American trio of Jason Dufner, Bryce Molder and Zach Johnson.

Yang was 1-under overall through six holes of the second round when play was called off; Choi, at 1-over with nine holes remaining, is in serious danger of missing the cut.

But Noh is sitting pretty.

"I am so happy," said Noh. "I have come here as an invite and I want to play as well as I can. It is a top class event. I have done well this season. I have had a lot of good finishes and that gives me confidence to do well. This is a very tough course, though."

While he’s a new name to American fans, Noh’s credentials and talent are well known in Asia. Rookie of the Year on the Asian Tour in 2008, he came of age this year when he triumphed in the Maybank Malaysian Open, a co-sanctioned European Tour and Asian Tour event. He became the youngest professional to claim a European Tour title.

Since then, he has performed consistently well, both in Asia and Europe. He currently tops the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is 105th in the latest Official World Golf Ranking.

Noh is making his third major appearance of the year. He tied for 40th in June’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and narrowly missed the cut in last month’s Open Championship at St. Andrews.

Also guaranteed a place in the final two rounds at Whistling Straits is Wen-chong Liang. With rounds of 72 and 71, he is in a share of 37th place at 143 - at least two shots inside the cut line.

Among those who will be returning to the course early on Saturday to complete their second rounds - and hoping to make the cut - Korean Kyung-tae Kim (even-par through 27 holes) and Thai Jaidee Thongchai (even-par through 24 holes).

Currently outside the cut line are Japan's Yuta Ikeda (two-over 146), Korean Choi (4-over through 27 holes) and Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita (4-over through 27 holes).

On five-over are Korean Charlie Wi (147) and the Japanese duo of Ryo Ishikawa (through 29 holes) and Tetsuji Hiratsuka (through 26 holes), while compatriot Koumei Oda is packing his bags after carding a 36-hole total of 152.

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