Let’s get one thing straight right away – golf is absolutely not the “old man’s game” many of us probably thought of growing up. Really, it hasn’t been since about this time in 1997, when Tiger Woods dominated the Masters and started to make golf cool.
It’s no surprise, then, that so many young men are playing, and winning, on the PGA Tour in 2014. Some of the names are obvious, like Keegan Bradley, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Still in their twenties, their generation is already major-tested and proven.
Of course, it’s not just about the names we already know. At just 22 years old, Seung-Yul Noh has joined a group of nine other twenty-somethings to hoist trophies on Tour this season alone. He was only ranked at No. 176 in the world entering the tournament, but he showed resolve beyond his age to win in New Orleans.
Noh is in just his third year on Tour, but handled the conditions of TPC Louisiana in expert fashion each day of the tournament. In a tournament known for its wildly low scoring, Noh didn’t make a bogey through the first three rounds, which is an absolutely ridiculous feat. He wasn’t even particularly accurate off the tee this week, but he hit greens with abandon (tied for fourth in Greens in Regulation) and was lights-out with the putter.
Certainly, that’s what allowed him to hold up when the windy conditions on Sunday took a toll on many players. When your putting is nearly flawless, the rest of the game seems somewhat easy, by comparison.
Noh’s game definitely caught the eye of several veterans, notably the legendary Gary Player, who took to Twitter to congratulate Noh for the win, lauding his “hard work, practice, dedication & joy.” You know you’ve done something right when the Black Knight takes notice.
Noh’s been right there with the best before. He’s played in both the U.S. and British Open Championships, as well as the PGA Championship before becoming a Tour member. Now that he has his first win, he’ll get an invitation to join the elite at Augusta National next April.
Sometimes timing and opportunity are all it takes to elevate a guy to that next level. Now we’ll get a chance to see how far he can take it.