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Friday, 19 March 2010
Maybank Malaysian Open - Final Round  (Getty Images)
Maybank Malaysian Open - Final Round (Getty Images)

South Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul became the youngest professional in history to win a European Tour event when he edged out compatriot K J Choi to claim the Maybank Malaysian Open following a dramatic finale at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Noh, at 18 years and 281 days, beat the record for youngest professional winner - previously set by Dale Hayes in 1971 - by nine days, although the youngest winner in Tour history is New Zealand's Danny Lee who was 18 and 213 days when he won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic as an amateur. Noh secured victory by holing a four foot birdie putt on the 18th green to card a four under par 68 after playing a superb chip shot from the edge of the practice putting green behind a hospitality marquee.

Choi, 39, had earlier birdied the last to card a three under par 69 and post the clubhouse lead at 13 under.

“I first won on the Asian Tour in 2008 but I struggled last year, but to win early in this year I am very happy,” said Noh, who now holds card in Asia, Europe and Japan.

“Coincidentally, when I was playing a practice round with K J earlier in the week he asked me when my last win was and when I told him it was in 2008 he said ‘Isn't it about time you won?’

“For it to happen this week, I couldn't think of a better situation.”

Noh stepped onto the final tee with a one shot lead after Choi shipped the only bogey of his final round on his penultimate hole following a poor tee shot.

Noh, though, hooked his drive onto the parallel tenth fairway before hitting his approach onto the cart path next to the practice putting green at the side of the final green, with the cheers from Choi's four foot birdie putt echoing down the fairway.

But Noh, who began his round with a chip in birdie at the first hole of the day, held his nerve to chip over a greenside bunker and sink the putt to seal a dramatic victory.

Joint overnight leaders Rhys Davies (71) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (71) and Søren Hansen (70) all missed lengthy birdie putts at the last to finish tied for third at 12 under par.

Danny Willett posted a second consecutive 68 over the weekend to claim sixth, a further shot off the pace, while Swede Johan Edfors (71) and Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee (71) finished tied for seventh at 10 under par.

Welsh Challenge Tour graduate Davies was on course to complete a victory for his first European Tour title after sharing a one shot overnight lead with Thai Kiradech, but was two over par at the turn after shipping three bogeys on the front nine.

And his three birdies over his last seven holes proved too little too late, although the two-time Challenge Tour winner was able to post his best finish on the European Tour.

“There are a lot of positives for this week,” he said. "I battled well today and eventually found good rhythm with the putter on the back nine.

"I felt I was going to make every putt I looked at and if I had had a little bit of luck coming in I might have made a few more, but that’s the way it was today.”

Despite missing out on the title, Choi was not too despondent, instead, choosing to praise his young compatriot.

“I'm not disappointed at all,” he said. “I played well and tried my best. Hats off to Seung-yul - he played well and had a fantastic round. I'm happy with how my game has improved and I have a lot to look forward to.

“Noh played brilliantly and I have no complaints. He is one of the most powerful young talents coming up. The way that he controls and hits the ball is like no other and I think he has a very bright future.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOH, Seung-yulKOR18-14
2CHOI, K JKOR18-13
T3HANSEN, SorenDEN18-12
T3APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-12
T3DAVIES, RhysWAL18-12
6WILLETT, DannyENG18-11
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