|Noh Sueng-yul. (AFP-Yonhap)|
AVONDALE, Louisiana (AP) ― If Noh Sueng-yul can hold on to the lead in the Zurich Classic, he’ll do it front of fans who can appreciate how much bigger Noh’s mission is than simply winning his first PGA Tour event.
Wearing yellow and black ribbons on his hat to honor victims of the April 16 South Korean ferry accident, Noh used a string of birdies late in his round Saturday to surge two strokes ahead of Keegan Bradley atop the leaderboard.
It is Noh’s first career lead through three rounds on the tour, but finds himself representing ― and captivating ― a nation mourning the more than 300 dead or missing ― many of them students ― from the sinking of a ferry in the waters off his home country.
“Hopefully, I’ll make all the Korean people happy,” Noh said. “It was very sad news for the Korean ship, so hopefully another bogey-free round tomorrow, and hopefully good news for the Koreans.”
Noh is the first player to complete 54 holes at the TPC Louisiana without a bogey. He shot a 7-under 65 to reach 18-under 198. No player has completed all four rounds on the course at better than 20 under, the score Billy Horschel posted last year, when he became the sixth player in the last nine years to secure his maiden PGA Tour triumph in New Orleans.
Noh will try to continue the trend when he tees off in the same group as Bradley, who is no stranger to winning. His three career tour victories include a major in the 2011 PGA Championship.
Bradley said he doubted that he would intimidate Noh, but added, “It is definitely hard getting your first win.”