NUMBER ONE AND NUMBER ONE ADDS UP TO A DOUBLE THREAT TO EUROPE


It is not uncommon for the general golfing public to associate Korea’s headline grabbing golfers with the Nation’s capital – Seoul; but unlike Kim Kyung-tae, the country’s other rising star, Noh Seung-yul is not from the former Olympic Games host city.

But it is much more difficult to separate them in terms of their achievements in 2010, as Kim finished top of the Japan Golf Tour’s Order of Merit, and Noh matched that feat on the Asian Tour. That double confirmed their status as national heroes, and saw both players selected for their Royal Trophy debuts, representing Asia against Europe in the fifth edition of the Matches at the spectacular Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Experts who have followed the careers of the two fantastic golfers are certainly not surprised at the way both players have rocketed into the top flight of world golf.

At 24, Kim is five years older than his compatriot. He has been tipped for great things in the professional game ever since he completed a glorious double at the 2006 Asian Games, where he won the individual gold medal and led Korea to the team gold. In recognition of that feat he was excused from national service and allowed to turn professional – after winning two events on the Korean Tour while he was still an amateur.

He did not have to wait long to achieve further success in the paid ranks. He won the 2007 Maekyung Open in his second start on the Asian Tour, but his decision to base himself on the Japan Golf Tour the following year has paid rich dividends. After finishing runner-up in the 2008 Tsuruya Open he had to endure the frustration of four more second places in 2009, including a play-off defeat to Shigeki Maruyama in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament.

But once Kim claimed his first victory in Japan at the Diamond Cup Golf last May, there was no stopping him. He went on to claim further victories at the prestigious Japan Open and the mynavi ABC Championship, and posted six more top-four finishes, including another runner-up spot at the highly competitive Dunlop Phoenix.

But his exploits were easily good enough to see him storm to the top of the Order of Merit on the Japan Golf Tour, and catapulted him into the position of Asia’s top player on the world rankings – and he looks certain to climb even higher in 2011.

Noh has inspired the same level of expectation since he burst onto the scene by finishing joint third at the 2006 Maekyung Open while he was still an amateur, and then recording another top ten at the Korean Open – having just turned 15. He was the reigning Korean Amateur champion and the Korean Junior Amateur title holder, and like Kim, he wasted no time in making his mark on the professional game.

As a 17 year old he was voted the Asian Tour’s Rookie of the Year, thanks to his win in the Midea China Classic and two runner-up finishes. He ended his debut campaign an impressive tenth on the Order of Merit.

A year of consolidation in 20009 was followed by a spectacular 2010, as he became Asia’s youngest ever Order of Merit champion at 19 years and 204 days.The highlight of the year was undoubtedly his one shot victory at the 2010 Malaysian Open, where he beat his boyhood hero, K.J.Choi by one shot thanks to a stunning birdie at the final hole. That extraordinary victory came courtesy of an exquisite chip from the edge of the practice putting green, behind a hospitality marquee! It sealed a four under par 68 to top the leader board at 14 under, after Choi had set the clubhouse target at 13 under.

The hours Noh had spent practising on the beach near his home in Gangwon-do after taking the game up as a seven-year-old had brought their reward, with a victory that lifted Noh into the forefront of the game’s most exciting young talents.

The Malaysian Open tournament was co-sanctioned by the European Tour, and Noh has since given the Europeans a few more reminders of his awesome potential – and along with Kim, he seems certain to add to his growing reputation at the upcoming fifth edition of the Royal Trophy.

Colin Montgomerie and his European Team are likely to learn that when Number One and Number One get together, it means double trouble for the opposition.

“There is great expectation for the performance of both Kim Kyung-tae and Noh Seung-yul at the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“Both of them have had a remarkable year in 2010, respectively winning the Japan Tour and Asian Tour Order of Merit. They come into the Royal Trophy very high on confidence;” added Lincoln Venancio.

“It seems to be the consensus that this is the strongest ever Asian Team at the Royal Trophy. It promises to be a fantastic series of matches;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The fifth edition of the Royal Trophy will take place on 7-9 January with the first day of the Competition featuring the Foursomes Matches, the second day bringing the European and Asian stars into collision in four Four-Ball encounters and the final day showcasing the high pressure Singles Matches. The Championship is co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd.; and is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited. The Matches will be held at the magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club in the coastal town of Hua Hin, Thailand.

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