After battling gusty winds that put the bite back in the TPC Louisiana layout for more than four hours Sunday afternoon, Seung-Yul Noh was probably thinking about a nice, cool shower.
He may not have expected to get it before he could get off the 18th green after his short par putt wrapped up the title in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
But he got it anyway.
The 22-year-old Noh became only the fifth Korean-born golfer to win on the PGA Tour when he posted a final-round 1-under-par 71. His 72-hole score of 19-under 269 was good enough to win by two strokes over Andrew Svoboda (69) and Robert Streb (70).
Noh, the seventh player in the past 10 years to earn his first PGA Tour win in New Orleans, received a check for $1.224 million as well as an impromptu beer shower from countrymen Y.E. Yang and Charlie Wi — both Tour players.
“Sometimes water, sometimes champagne,” a smiling Noh said when asked if it’s Korean tradition to celebrate with a beer shower.
After playing near-perfect golf for three days, when he was the only player in the tournament to go bogey-free in the first 54 holes, Noh wasn’t at his best Sunday.
Then again, he didn’t have to be when the course played more difficult with the wind howling at 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Only 10 of the 75 players who went out Sunday scored in the 60s.
Noh, who was making just his 78th start on Tour, made his first bogey of the week at No. 1 and added two more on the back nine.
But there were few worries as he carded four birdies and finished with a 71, virtually clinching the victory with a 3-foot birdie putt at No. 16 and a 14-foot par-saving putt at the treacherous par-3 17th.
For one of the few times in four trips around the course, he showed some emotion with two fist pumps when he went to retrieve his ball from the cup at No. 17 after retaining a two-stroke lead over Svoboda and Streb with only one to play.
“Yeah, that was a clutch putt,” said Noh, who won the 2010 Malaysian Open as an 18-year-old. “If I miss that putt, it’s just one shot. So it makes 18 a little easier because it’s not just one shot. (Holes) 16 and 17 were key today.”
After opening the tournament with a 65 on Thursday, Noh had a 68 on Friday and put up another sparkling 65 Saturday to wrestle the lead away from first- and second-round leader Ben Martin.
Noh had three birdies in a row at the 14th through 16th holes Saturday and shot to the top of the leaderboard, taking a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley into the final round.
But Bradley struggled badly Sunday and wasn’t a factor after going 3-over on the front nine with a bogey at No. 5 and a triple-bogey at the par-4 sixth hole. He shot a 75 and finished in a tie for eighth at 13-under.
Like Bradley, Martin limped home with a 75 on Sunday and 11-under 277 score to tie former LSU All-American David Toms for 15th place.
Martin fired a course-record 10-under 62 to open the tournament and had a 67 on Friday. He was 14-under after 22 holes but was 3-over for his final 50 holes after shooting a 73 on Saturday.
Even though he didn’t shoot the lowest round, which was a 64 by Robert Garrigus early in the day, it was Noh’s day — especially when he negated bogeys at the 12th and 15th holes with birdies at Nos. 10, 13 and 16.
Noh, who plays out of Irving, Texas, became the fifth Korean-born golfer to win on the American tour — joining Yang, K.J. Choi, Kevin Na and Sang-Moon Bae. Choi had the first of his eight PGA Tour wins at the 2002 Compaq Classic of New Orleans.
“Yes, the dream came true,” said Noh, who earned a spot in the 2015 Masters. “Since I started playing golf at 7, I always dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour. The dream came true, and I’m very excited to be playing in the Masters.”