Swede Sensation

Thu 26 Mar 2009

Swede Sensation


Hua Hin, Thailand, March 26: Sweden's Johan Edfors powered his way to an eight-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead over Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul after the first round of the inaugural Black Mountain Masters on Thursday.

Edfors soared to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle and six birdies at the magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club to effectively set a new course record at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.


The 17-year-old Noh, last season's Rookie of the Year, fired a 66 to lead the chasing pack, followed closely by Filipino veteran Frankie Minoza, George Coetzee of South Africa and Australian trio Chris Gaunt, Neven Basic and Peter Cooke, all on 67s.

Thailand's Chapchai Nirat, who enjoyed a record 32-under-par victory in India last week, bogeyed his last hole for a 69 while countryman Prayad Marksaeng, who needs a top-three finish to boost his hopes of qualifying for the US Masters, returned a 70.

Edfors, a three-time winner in Europe, overpowered the Black Mountain course and tamed four of the par five holes in five under. "I got the most out of my round today," said Edfors. "The winds blew in a different direction and it was a bit confusing. But I played quite conservatively and gave myself decent chances and holed quite a few putts."

The Swede, who bears a resemblance to Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, started strongly with two opening birdies and cruised to four under through 13 holes before producing a grand-stand finish with two birdies and a closing eagle where he hammered a three wood to 15 feet of the pin on the 18th hole.

"It was a nice way to finish. Usually when I've had a chance to win a tournament, I have taken that chance. I'm not won leading on the European Tour but I've done it on the Challenge Tour and I know the feeling and I like it," said Edfors.


The talented Noh sank seven birdies against a lone bogey and credited a two-week break for his solid start. "I made a few putts and every shot I hit kind of worked out," said Noh.

"I'm feeling good. I took a break recently as I was feeling a bit tired after playing in four straight events. I put in a bit of work at home which showed on the course today," added the Korean, who is currently 10th on the Order of Merit with one top-10 and two top-20s.

After a stellar rookie season where he won once and posted three other runner-up finishes, Noh is being tipped for stardom and follow in the footsteps of Korea's most famous golfing son, K.J. Choi.

"My game is getting better as I'm gaining more experience playing on the Asian Tour. My target is to try and win the Asian Tour Order of Merit over the next two or three years and become better than KJ Choi eventually," said Noh.

If Noh represents the future of golf in Asia, veteran Minoza, who turns 50 in December, is amongst the first from the region to make a name for himself with multiple titles in Japan and Asia.

The amiable Filipino was delighted to be amongst the leaders as he said it was getting tougher to compete against the young guns. "It's so difficult to keep up with the young boys as they are hitting it so long. The game has changed. When you are turning 50, your dream is to play on the Champions Tour, and not on this Tour any more as it's harder to compete," said Minoza, whose card included seven birdies against two dropped shots.


"I still work hard. When I'm home, I go to the gym every day. I do weights and go biking. That's my hobby now, to try to become fitter. Otherwise I can't keep up with the young boys, especially in this heat. If you have no stamina, you'll die early!"

Asian Tour rookie Gaunt gave up professional golf for five years until the end of 2007 and he was delighted to be in the title mix. He called a penalty stroke on himself on ninth green when his ball moved during address.

"It was quite solid and the ninth was the only bogey I had. I called it on myself as the other guys didn't see it and I had to do the right thing," said Gaunt, who enjoyed tied sixth finishes in the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship late last year.

"I am striking the ball really well and had a chip in on four."

Tournament drawcard Jesper Parnevik of Sweden struggled to a 75 to leave himself with an uphill battle to make the halfway cut on Friday.

Leading first round scores

64: Johan Edfors (Swe)

66: Noh Seung-yul (Kor)

67: Chris Gaunt (Aus), Frankie Minoza (Phi), George Coetzee (Rsa), Peter Cooke (Aus), Neven Basic (Aus)

68: Namchoak Tantipokakul (Tha), Jason King (Aus), Chan Yih-shin (Tpe), Somkiat Srisanga (Tha), Angelo Que (Phi), Artemio Murakami (Phi), Daisuke Maruyama (Jpn), Keith Horne (Rsa)


69: Chapchai Nirat (Tha)

70: Prayad Marksaeng (Tha)

75: Jesper Parnevik (Swe)


For further information, please contact Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang at the tournament media centre: +66 32 618 662. Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring this week.



About Black Mountain Golf Club

Black Mountain is the seventh and newest golf course in Hua Hin and was launched in 2007. The course is set in a valley, just next to the "Black Mountains", which are so named because of the large black rocks set into the mountains, providing a spectacular backdrop to many of the holes. The 72 par, 7,345 yards is designed by Pacific Coast Design. The most important features are the natural creeks that run throughout the course and the natural rocks that have been used as design features on many of the holes.  As many of the original trees as possible have been kept and many new trees have been planted to frame the holes. All the holes provide the golfer with a safe route but for the more adventurous player there is a higher risk option with a potential greater reward. The design offers generous fairways for the shorter hitter but becoming narrower for the longer hitter. The greens are large with many pin positions, with different degrees of difficulty, and the course is well protected by beautifully sculptured bunkers. After what has hopefully been a low score, but if not, at least an unforgettable golfing experience, you can then enjoy the luxurious clubhouse and the fine dining on offer.


About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.

About IMG

IMG is the world's premier sports, entertainment and media enterprise. Operating in 30 countries, IMG's diverse businesses include: consulting services; event ownership and management; fashion events and models representation; licensing; golf course design; and client representation in golf, tennis, broadcasting, speakers, European football, rugby, cricket, motor sports, coaching, Olympic sports and action sports.  IMG Academies are the world's largest and most advanced multi-sport training and educational facilities, delivering world-class sports training experiences to more than 12,000 junior, collegiate, adult, and professional athletes each year. IMG's media and entertainment operations include content production subsidiaries Darlow Smithson Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions.  Globally, IMG produces and distributes more than 11,000 hours of sports, documentary, drama, comedy, entertainment, popular factual and children's content annually.  IMG also represents the broadcast rights to many of the world's premier sporting events and has the world's largest sports archive with more than 250,000 hours of footage. Forstmann Little & Co. purchased IMG in 2004. More information about IMG is available at www.imgworld.com