NORTON, Mass. - Seung-yul Noh first made a name for himself when he won an Asian Tour event at 17 and then beat K.J. Choi just over a year later in the Malaysian Open. Looking to refine his swing in his first year as a PGA Tour member, a strong collection of names jumped out at him.
Tiger Woods. Hunter Mahan. Justin Rose. All of them were clients of Canadian swing coach Sean Foley, and Noh joined the stable in May.
"He had great three players," Noh said.
The 21-year-old from South Korea was better than all of them Friday in the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Never mind that Woods ran off six straight birdies — his longest such streak since the 2005 Masters — for a 7-under 64, his lowest opening round in three years. Noh took aim at the TPC Boston in the afternoon and put together a bogey-free round of 62 to build a one-shot lead.
He made four straight birdies on the front nine then closed with back-to-back birdies to take the lead over Chris Kirk.
Woods, Jeff Overton and Ryan Moore were another shot back, followed by a group that included Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen at 65. The conditions were so pure except for a tricky wind that swirled through the trees that the average score was just under 70.
Leading the way was Noh, who missed only two greens and took 26 putts. Noh said the change in his swing was geared toward making him more consistent. He said Foley often will send him photos of Woods, Rose and Mahan for guidance, although their swings are different.
"He's a good kid," Mahan said. "If Foley says, `Do this 1,000 times,' he'll go home and do it 1,000 times."
And what does Mahan do?
"I'll do it 900 times and then quit," he said with a laugh.
Mahan had reason to smile after a 68, which could not have come at a better time. He has missed his last two cuts, in the PGA Championship and The Barclays, taking him from a likely captain's pick for the Ryder Cup to on the bubble.
There was a lot going on in Boston, from the FedEx Cup to the Ryder Cup. The top 70 players from the 99-man field will advance to the third stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs next week in Indianapolis, which is a big deal to a guy like Overton. He grew up in Indiana, played for the Hoosiers, and knows Crooked Stick better than anyone in the field. That will be the site of the BMW Championship next week.
Crooked Stick hasn't hosted the best players in the world since John Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship.
Overton is No. 83 in the FedEx Cup, so yes, this was a good start.
"I'm constantly getting a lot of great text messages and people say, `Hey, we're really excited to see you at Crooked Stick,' just the whole Hoosier nation," Overton said. "It's just going to be fun if I can get into the event."
On a glorious start to Labor Day weekend in New England, it was Woods who supplied the buzz.
Woods hit a full swing, flop shot behind the 12th green to a few feet away to save par, the only time he was seriously in trouble. He hit a high cut with a 5-iron to a tough pin on the par-3 11th for birdie from 15 feet, and he holed an 18-foot birdie on the 13th.
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|SW Oklahoma St||55||FINAL|
|San Diego St||70|
|(13) Oklahoma State||24|
|(16) Arizona State||14|
|(1) Florida State||45|
|(7) Ohio State||24||FINAL|
|(4) Michigan State||34|
|(21) Fresno State||24|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|(10) Penn State||77||FINAL|
|Central Conn St||82||FINAL|
|(12) South Carolina||76||FINAL|
|Cal State Fullerton||52||FINAL|
|(20) Iowa State||79|
|Stephen F Austin||83||FINAL|
|Long Beach St||67||FINAL|