Saturday, May 26, 2018

No bogeys, no problems, Noh leads Zurich Classic

AVONDALE, La. — If Seung-Yul Noh can hold on to the lead in the Zurich Classic, he'll do it in 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. Bradley's 7-under 65 included eight birdies.

It is Noh's first career lead through three rounds on the tour, and comes in a city where sports — particularly the success of the NFL's Saints — became an uplifting force after Hurricane Katrina.

Noh finds himself representing — and captivating — a nation mourning the more than 300 dead or missing — many 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 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 is in his third year on tour but finished outside the top 125 on the money list last season, forcing him to play in Tour Finals events to retain his tour card.

Ben Martin, who had a three-shot lead after two rounds, shot 73 to drop into a tie for fourth with Jeff Overton and Andrew Svoboda at 14-under 202. Overton shot 67 and Svoboda 70.

LPGA: Stacy Lewis matched 17-year-old playing partner Lydia Ko of New Zealand with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 and added another on the 17th hole to take a one-stroke lead in the Swinging Skirts Classic in Daly City, Calif. The third-ranked Lewis and fourth-ranked Ko each shot 4-under 68 at Lake Merced. Winless since the Women's British Open in August, the 29-year-old Lewis had a 10-under 206 total. Ko won the Canadian Women's Open as an amateur the last two years and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start as a professional. She has five victories in pro events. Jenny Shin was four strokes back at 6 under. She also shot 68. Michelle Wie, the winner last week in Hawaii, was tied for 13th at 1-under 215 after 71.