Yealimi Noh, a Concord teenager who turned pro in February, began her week trying to qualify for the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. She goes into the weekend paired with the No. 1 player in women’s golf.
Noh, 17, believes six months of hard work is paying off after she followed up her first round 63 with a 7-under-par 65 on Friday. Those scores put the Carondelet High alum one stroke off the lead.
Sung Hyun Park, whose victory last week in Arkansas returned her to No. 1 in the world, twice ran off four consecutive birdies for a 10-under 62 to break the Oneida, Wis., tournament’s 36-hole scoring record at 17-under 127.
Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 64 and was two shots out of the lead. Monterey native Mina Harigae (63) and Tiffany Joh (66) were at 14-under, while Shanshan Feng of China had a 67 and was four shots behind.
The biggest surprise was Noh, mainly because of the schedule she keeps.
After a superb summer of amateur golf last year, when she won the Girls Junior PGA, the U.S. Junior Girls and the Canadian Women’s Amateur in three consecutive weeks, in September she helped the U.S. win the Junior Ryder Cup in Paris. She decided not to play at UCLA and turn pro, even though she had no status on any tour.
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Noh has received two sponsor exemptions on the Symetra Tour. She played a Korean LPGA event. And she has been trying to advance past Monday qualifiers for LPGA Tour events, without much success.
Until this week.
“It means so much,” Noh said. “All the hard work, all the months of just like not knowing where I’m going to play and what I’m going to do, just finally playing here and playing well is really like a dream come true.”
Those dreams did not include a weekend tee time in the final group with the No. 1 player in women’s golf.
“Definitely not. I did not think about that,” Noh said. “But no matter who I play with and how they’re playing, anything, I just don’t want to think about anything else. Just focus on my score and my game. I don’t want to think too much.”
PGA Tour: Bryson DeChambeau dominated the second round of the 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., racking up nine birdies to finish at a career-low 62 and vault into the lead at 14-under halfway through the event at the TPC Twin Cities.
Adam Hadwin was at 12-under, with four others in third place at 10-under.
European Tour: Zander Lombard shot 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead at 9-under 131 after two rounds of the Irish Open in Lahinch.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/golf/article/Concord-teenager-Noh-is-one-stroke-back-at-LPGA-14074800.php.