Korean youngster Noh shoots a 6-under 66 in Dubai
South Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul - ''call me S.Y.'' - is battling to become the fourth South Korean golfer in the world's top 50.
S.Y., as he prefers to be called outside South Korea, made a strong start in that campaign Thursday at the season-ending Dubai World Championship, shooting a 6-under 66 on the newly-installed Earth Course in the desert scrub near Dubai.
Noh was in second place after the first round, one shot behind Sweden's Robert Karlsson and one shot ahead of Germany's Martin Kaymer.
Most low scores cames later in the day, but Noh was out by 9 a.m. with dew still on the course that burned off quickly for later players.
Nerves got the better of him with this first shot of the day.
''I had a bit of trouble on the first hole,'' Noh said.
''I had an atrocious drive on the first swing and it was right next to the tree. I was actually hoping for a bogey, but a putt went in to save par from five feet, so that was a good save,'' he added.
Noh's round included six birdies, two of them on the tough 17th and the 620-yard-long 18th as he found his rhythm playing alongside Asian Tour colleague Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who finished the day in fourth place with a 4-under 68.
After three years as a pro on the Asian circuit, Noh broke through on the European Tour earlier this year with victory at the Malaysian Open, which awoke dreams of qualifying for the PGA Tour. Mediocre results qualified that ambition and he joined the European Tour. He is currently ranked 69th in the world.
''One of my other objectives for the end of this year is to try and break into the top 50 in the world; and thus, try to secure my spot in the Masters,'' he said through a translator.
A top 50 spot would take Noh within a few places of his idol and compatriot, K.J. Choi, but some way behind 30th-ranked Korean Kim Kyung-Tae and 40th-placed Y.E. Yang.
Noh's emergence on the international scene has been gradual since he won the Korean Amateur Championship in 2005. This year, he played all four days of the U.S. Open and finished tied 28th at the PGA Championship.
''It was a good day,'' he said Thursday, revealing he no longer trembles at the prospect of playing with the world's top golfers.
''The awe factor has worn down a bit. This is my third pro season, so it's not that I'm totally bug eyed and awe inspired every time I step onto the field. I've played three Majors this year, so I'm getting used to playing with big names now.''