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McIlroy inspires Noh to victory

By Karl MacGinty

Rory McIlroy beware, there's a Korean teen sensation looking to match your efforts.

Noh Seung-yul turns 19 in May and now has two professional victories under his belt after brilliantly snatching the Maybank Malaysian Open title yesterday.

Having completely avoided the final fairway all the way, Noh executed a superb 30-yard chip from the edge of the practice putting green to just three feet for an eventual tap-in birdie. That resulted in a final round of 68 for a 14-under-par total, one better than fellow Korean and boyhood mentor KJ Choi.

Noh hit his final tee shot at the par-five so far left his ball came to rest in the middle of the adjoining 10th fairway.

The former Asian Tour Rookie of the Year then watched as an errant rescue club shot missed a corporate enclosure and rolled to rest on a path some 30 yards to the left of the green.

However, under the guidance of top rules official John Paramour, Noh was eventually allowed relief on a grass verge in front of a fence bordering the practice putting green.

The Korean then threaded his third through a gap between a 20-foot high tree and a 50-foot high light tower that's used to illuminate the 18th green during night competition. The tap-in birdie followed, along with his second professional career success.

Noh admitted afterwards that he had often played in the company of McIlroy and has been impressed by the Ulsterman's quick rise up the world rankings.

“He's a very good player and it's amazing what he has managed to achieve in such a short time,” said Noh.

“Rory's also now started playing on the PGA Tour and that is where I want to play eventually.”

Noh immediately accepted the reward of European Tour membership and the prize of a two-year exemption. He goes straight in to 15th on the Race to Dubai money list courtesy of his €246,290 winner's prize cheque.

McIlroy failed to make a charge in the final round of the Honda Classic in Florida last night.

He rounded off his week with a one under 69 last night to finish in a share of 40th place.

Graeme McDowell, lying in joint eighth overnight, had high hopes of mounting a late run, particularly after opening with consecutive birdies at the PGA National.

But he twice found water as he dropped three shots in the space of the next five holes.

And with overnight leader Colombian Camilo Villegas picking up three birdies on his front nine to move five clear of the field, the title was his to lose.

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