Yealimi Noh makes the grade, gets her LPGA tour card

Yealimi Noh makes the grade, gets her LPGA tour card
Yealimi Noh was the youngest woman at 18-years-old to earn her LPGA Tour Card this month following a third-place finish in the grueling Q-Series in North Carolina. The Concord golfer fired six of eight rounds in the 60s and can begin her first full-time LPGA season in 2020 not having to worry about qualifying every week. Photo courtesy LPGA Tour

Concord’s Yealimi Noh realized her dream this month that was put into motion following her sophomore year at Carondelet High School less than two and half years ago. The 18-year-old golfer finished third in the marathon called the Q-Series in North Carolina and now she has her ticket into the 2020 LPGA Tour.

Noh carded six of her eight rounds in the 60s during the Q-Series at Pinehurst and that earned her a 15 under par score, good enough to best all but two of the 98 women trying to earn a LPGA Tour card in the final phases of the Q-Series, which began with golfers from 32 countries and 23 states.

Muni He of China went under-par every round of the Q-Series to finish the eight-round tournament at
-21. Two-time LPGA Tour winner Hee Young Park of Seoul, South Korea finished in solo second at -18 after posting a 2-under par 70 in the final round.

Noh’s third-place finish was a relief after the 12 rounds at the LPGA Qualifying Tournament Stage II and Q-Series. “I’m excited to play and have chances to win. I’m just really happy to be out there when I’m going to be out there. I’m just excited,” said Noh.

“I [couldn’t] get too excited until it’s over. So, after I hit my second shot, which is over the water – after I hit my second on the green and close, too, I was like — and I had mud on my ball, too. Yeah. I was like, Oh, if I go in the water this is not cool. Just going on green and finally being able to breathe, I don’t know, just really happy all of a sudden that I’m finally done and will get to play next year.”

QA-Series Class of 2019

Noh really established herself in the competition by shooting the lowest score of the third round of the Q-Series and took the 54-hole lead at -9. After that round she said, “I know I’m ready and have what it takes to play on the LPGA because of this year but playing well right now feels really good. I just need to control my conditioning and stuff like that because last week my game was in a good place, but all the exhaustion got to me. I’m finally rested, feel better and just playing my game.”

Noh had begun her first LPGA Qualifying Tournament process at Stage II in Venice, Fla. and used rounds of 71-72-73-65 to finish tied for 10th and advance to Q-Series. The week prior to that showing, Noh was in Incheon, Republic of Korea for the KLPGA Hana Financial Group Championship where she ended tied for 12th.

Hana is her primary sponsor on tour and she competed in its tournament right before starting the LPGA qualifying grind half a world away. It was her first true glimpse of what a future travel schedule could look like on the LPGA Tour.

“I usually think I’m pretty good with jet lag and adjust pretty fast but going from west to east coast kind of messed me up,” Noh said. “When I got back from Asia, I was okay at home [in Concord] then coming over here for another time change was hard. Also, having even more pressure of Q-School and Stage II was probably the hardest thing I’ve done all year. It helped me learn a lot for travel and how to adjust, stuff like that.”

She had capped her amateur career with an incredible 2018 season that changed her plans of attending UCLA on a golf scholarship after she was home school following two years at Carondelet. Instead, she turned pro last winter and had two near-championship showings in LPGA tournaments this year.