Noh leads, Woods in pursuit

2012-09-01 09:02

Massachusetts - Seung-Yul Noh capped a flawless nine-under 62 with two birdies on Friday to seize a one-shot first-round lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second stop in the PGA Tour playoffs.

South Korea's Noh, playing in more testing afternoon conditions, roared past early pace-setters Tiger Woods and Jeff Overton, who had shared the morning clubhouse lead on 64 but ended the day sharing third place alongside Ryan Moore and behind Noh and American Chris Kirk - who carded an eight-under 63 at the TPC Boston.

Noh nabbed his first birdie of the day on the par-five second, then reeled off four straight birdies from the fourth. Four birdies coming home included back-to-back efforts at 17 and 18 - where he landed a wedge five feet from the pin.

"Everything (was) good today," said the 21-year-old Noh, who won on the Asian Tour at 17 and earned his US tour card in qualifying school in December.

Like Woods, he works with swing coach Sean Foley, but he can't claim the name recognition of Foley's most famous client - or much recognition at all yet in America.

"Some people say Kevin Na, like, 'Go Kevin,'" Noh said of fans who have mistaken him for the Korean-American player.

While he was delighted with his round, which was one shot off the course record of 61, Noh was well aware that plenty of golf remained in the event scheduled to end Monday on the US Labor Day holiday.

"Golf is playing 72 holes, so plenty of holes left," he said.

Woods, too, knows that after enduring some wobbly weekend play this season.

Woods has won three times this season, but he has also seen several title challenges unravel on the weekend. He shared the halfway lead at two major championships only to falter and last week at The Barclays he stumbled home with a 72-76.

He was off to an undeniably hot start, however, with a round that included a string of six birdies and was his second-lowest of the season, bettered only by the 62 he carded in the final round of the Honda Classic.

He walked off the course with a one-shot lead but was quickly joined at 64 by Overton, who like Woods had eight birdies and one bogey in his round.

"I played really well today," said Woods, who teed off on 10 and birdied 11 and 13 before launching his run of six successive birdies at the revamped par-five 18th.

"I hit a lot of good shots, and on top of that, I putted well at the same time," added Woods, who hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and 10 of 14 fairways. "It was a nice little combination."

Woods' only miscue came at his final hole, the par-four ninth, where his approach shot missed the green.

"I hit the ball well enough to probably shoot maybe one or two more (under)," Woods said. "I missed a couple little putts out there. But also I made my share from outside of 15, 20 feet as well."

Overton, who needs a good finish here to advance to the next event of the playoffs at Crooked Stick -- birdied five straight starting at the 12th and punctuated his round with a birdie at 18.

Kirk teed off on 10 and his round included an eagle at the 18th, which was expected to be more difficult after a redesign that included making the green smaller.

World number one Rory McIlroy and American Bryce Molder shared sixth place on 65, one shot in front of Australian John Senden and South African Louis Oosthuizen.

England's Luke Donald and Ian Poulter were among a group of seven players on 67.

Leading first-round scores on Friday in the $8 million Deutsche Bank Championship, the second event in the PGA Tour playoffs (USA unless noted, par-71):

62 - Seung-Yul Noh (KOR)

63 - Chris Kirk

64 - Tiger Woods, Jeff Overton, Ryan Moore

65 - Rory McIlroy (NIR), Bryce Molder

66 - John Senden (AUS), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)

67 - Ian Poulter (ENG), Luke Donald (ENG), Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Jonas Blixt (SWE), David Hearn (CAN), Jason Dufner

68 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA), D.A. Points, Bud Cauley, Lee Westwood (ENG), Aaron Baddeley (AUS), Jason Day (AUS), John Merrick, Kevin Stadler, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan

69 - J.J. Henry, Kevin Na, William McGirt, Adam Scott (AUS), Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt, Brandt Snedeker, Ted Potter, Greg Owen (ENG), Blake Adams, Dicky Pride, Pat Perez, Tom Gillis, John Rollins, Greg Chalmers (AUS), Ernie Els (RSA), Jim Furyk, Sang-Moon Bae (KOR)