KUALA LUMPUR // Noh Seung-yul, the Korean teenager, fired a sensational first-round 10-under-par 62 to edge ahead of Alexander Noren for the clubhouse lead at the Maybank Malaysian Open yesterday. Noh, 17, enjoyed an excellent start, holing a 45ft birdie putt at his opening hole, the 10th, but it was his playing partner Noren who set the pace for much of the morning after opening with four consecutive birdies at Saujana Golf & Country Club's Palm Course.
Noh, however, kept in touch with the Swede and eventually overhauled him with an eagle at the par-five seventh and a birdie on the eighth, his ninth of the day. The lone blemish on the Korean's round was a bogey on the par-three fifth, but the youngster had much to smile about after taking a one-stroke lead over Noren midway through the opening round. "I didn't make any mistakes today and I putted really well to post a good score," said Noh, who won the Midea China Classic and had three runner-up finishes on his debut season on the Asian Tour last year. "I'm happy but you don't win a tournament on the first day.
"The eagle on seven was pretty special but with a 10-under today, every moment was a highlight." Noren had nine birdies in his bogey-free 63 and Noh admitted that the Swede's good form motivated him to perform. "He played well at the start of the round," said Noh, an admirer of KJ Choi and the Australian Adam Scott. "I wasn't thinking of beating him but I tied to catch him during the round. He pushed me along."
Noren, who has yet to win on the European Tour, was impressed by the form of the teenager. "He is unbelievable," Noren said. "Our first hole was the 10th and he hit his tee shot way right and I thought he might be a little nervous. Next thing I know he knocks it on the green and makes the putt for birdie. Obviously he wasn't too nervous." Having fired a nine-over 81 at Saujana two years ago, Noren was happier with his opening effort this time around. "I had bad memories of this place but I love it now," he said.
Liang Wen-chong of China, a former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, and France's Jean-Francois Lucquin were tied for third place after carding seven-under 65s. Australia's Adam Blyth was in fifth on a six-under 66, while Rhys Davies of Wales was the leading British contender after firing a 67 to join Juvic Pagunsan and Airil Rizman, in a tie for sixth. * PA Sport