SYLVANIA, Ohio —
Yealimi Noh, who is only 17 years old, will play this week at the LGPA on a sponsor's exemption after going through quite a whirlwind.
Less than a year ago, she was committed to UCLA to play golf at the collegiate level. As of last week, she scored 23-under par at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, which placed her tied for sixth overall — her best finish as a pro. Now, she’s taking in the sights and sounds of Highland Meadows Golf Course, playing in the Marathon Classic.
Heading into day three of last week’s tournament, Noh was not slated to even compete this week in her fourth professional tournament. Then, she received a phone call learning she would head to northwest Ohio, playing this week in Sylvania.
“I was so excited. It was right before my third round started,” Noh said with a riveting smile when describing the call. “I was just like, ‘It is a great way to start the day. I am so grateful that they invited me. I am super thankful to keep on playing. I want to get a taste of what it is like playing on tour.
“It gives me so much relief having a spot and not having [to win] the Monday qualifier. I just kind of earned my way through the field. It made me play more confident because I have another chance next week.”
Following the surprise phone call the morning of Saturday, July 6, she shot a 69. A superb score nonetheless, but it was six strokes over her best score. She shot a professional career-high of 63 Thursday, stamping a nine-under performance to open the weekend.
“I was just hitting fairways and hitting greens … a lot of greens,” she said. “I putt pretty well. The first two days and I just made a lot of birdies.”
Last week’s steadfast showing has a pledge of confidence heading into this week’s tournament.
“It gives me confidence and I hope to play somewhat close to how I did last week,” she said. “Just keep that feeling going and hopefully I play well this week.”
It is not typical to see teenagers on the tour. Last week, the six finishers in front or tied with Noh, averaged an age of slightly older 26-years old. Although she is a decade younger, or perhaps even more than her opponent, her competitors were surprised to know her age.
“The were just like, ‘What!’ A lot of people think I am much older than I look,” she said. “It is great. I am just really young.
“It means a lot. It motivates me to keep doing the same and work harder.”
Additionally, playing with golfers with much more experience than her offers a great learning lesson.
“It was cool to learn from them and see how they hold themselves. Talking to them and seeing their experiences is really fun.”