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Korean young guns impress at British Open

SANDWICH (AFP) -- South Korean young guns Noh Seung-yul and Hwang Jung-gon led the Asian charge at the British Open on Thursday, signaling their talent with sub-par rounds at Royal St George's.

Asian Tour number one Noh is determined to impress on the biggest stage of all and knows that he is capable of doing so following a one-under-par 69 which upstaged some of the world's biggest names.

Korea's Jung-Gon Hwang hits a shot from the 16th tee during the first day of the British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's golf course Sandwich, England, Thursday, July 14, 2011. (AP-Yonhap News)
Korea's Jung-Gon Hwang hits a shot from the 16th tee during the first day of the British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's golf course Sandwich, England, Thursday, July 14, 2011. (AP-Yonhap News)

"I'm very happy with how I've played today. I'll go out there and play even better tomorrow," said Noh, 20, who is making his second appearance at the British Open.

"I did everything right today. Apart from a few bad tee shots, everything was okay. This is not an easy course to play but I'm glad I'm still able to handle it well," added Noh who marked his card with two birdies against a lone bogey.

Noh may have struggled to find his form earlier in the year after making swing changes under the guidance of world renowned coach Butch Harmon, but he knew that the result will show if he continued to keep faith in himself.

"I've always believed in myself and despite some people questioning why I had to change my swing after achieving so much success, deep down inside me, I know it would be a change for the better," said Noh.

But Noh's round was bettered later in the day by compatriot Hwang, who moved to two under after shooting a 68. Only a bogey on the 18th prevented the 19-year-old tyro from finishing on three-under.

Meanwhile Yang Yong-eun, the first Asian male to win a Major, plans to adopt a more aggressive approach to keep his title ambitions alive after posting a 71, the same as K.J. Choi.

"The winds died down considerably in my back-nine and I should have capitalized on it. The conditions were easier there and because I couldn't finish my round on a positive note, I'm going to play a lot more aggressive tomorrow," said Yang.

Thailand's Prom Meesawat battled to an opening 72 but is savoring every moment in his Major debut.

From having used to watching the action from the comforts of his living room to finally teeing up alongside the world's best players, Prom now hopes that his run will extend into the weekend.

"This is my first Major and it's a good score for me. It's a great experience playing in front of so many people and learning how to keep my focus under all of these different conditions," said Prom, who holds one victory on the Asian Tour.

"I hit a lot of good tee shots today but the winds were blowing very strongly especially on the front-nine and it was difficult to get my ball to stop. I going to try harder tomorrow but a lot will depend on the wind conditions and hopefully it'll be favorable for me," added the Thai who mixed his card with six bogeys against four birdies.

<관련 한글 기사>

한국 유망주들 브리티시 오픈서 선전



한국 유망주들이 제140회 브리티시오픈 골프대회 1라운드에서 인상적인 모습을 보였다고 AFP통신이 15일 보도했다.

황중곤(19)은 14일(이하 현지시간) 잉글랜드 샌드위치의 로열 세인트 조지스 골프장(파70•7천211야드)에서 열린 1라운드 경기에서 2언더파 68타로 공동 6위에 올랐고 노승열(20•타이틀리스트)은 1언더파 69타로 공동 18위를 기록했다.

2009년 프로에 데뷔한 황중곤은 6월 일본프로골프투어(JGTO) 미즈노 오픈에서 우승을 차지해 이번 대회 출전권을 따낸 선수다.

국내 투어 정규대회 시드전을 통과하지 못해 일본으로 눈을 돌린 황중곤은 국내 에도 잘 알려지지 않은 무명이지만 미즈노 오픈에서 '깜짝 우승'을 차지했다.

17번 홀(파4)에서 버디를 잡아 3언더파로 올라섰던 황중곤은 마지막 18번 홀(파 4)에서 1타를 잃어 순위를 더 끌어올릴 기회를 잡지 못했다.

지난해 아시안투어 상금 1위에 올랐던 노승열은 1라운드를 마친 뒤 "오늘 결과 에 만족한다. 내일은 더 좋은 성적을 내고 싶다"며 "티샷이 몇 차례 좋지 않았지만 나머지는 다 괜찮았다. 어려운 코스지만 첫날은 잘 마무리한 것 같다"고 평가했다.

지난해 브리티시오픈에 처음 출전해 컷 탈락했던 노승열은 "주위에서 왜 스윙을 바꾸려 하느냐고 말할 때도 나에 대한 믿음이 있었다"고 설명했다.

노승열은 올해 초 스윙 코치 부치 하먼과 함께 스윙 교정 작업에 들어가느라 좋 은 성적을 내지 못했다.

한편 아시아 선수로는 최초로 메이저대회 우승을 차지한 양용은(39•KB금융그룹 )은 1오버파 71타, 공동 51위로 첫날을 마쳤다.

양용은은 "후반 들어 바람이 잦아들었지만 기회를 살리지 못했다. 내일은 더 공격적으로 나가겠다"고 다짐했다. (연합뉴스)

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