Rookie Yealimi Noh, still scarred by a massive slow-play fine, finds herself in contention at KPMG Women’s PGA

·2 min read

JOHNS CREEK, Georgia – Rookie season 2.0 hasn’t been smooth for Yealimi Noh. Not how she pictured it would be at least, considering the strong half-season she enjoyed in 2020.

Noh, who at 19 is the youngest player in the field, opened with a 3-under 69 at the KPMG Women’s PGA, armed with a new arm-lock putter that helped her birdie six holes en route to a share of second behind leader Lizette Salas.

In March at the Kia Classic, Noh was hit with a $10,000 slow-play fine that rocked her world. The next week at the ANA Inspiration, Noh told Golfweek that she couldn’t appeal because it was obviously her fault. She feels differently about it now.

“I was quite emotional and still thinking I deserved it,” said Noh, “but I don’t think I did.”

After the fine, Noh felt that some people looked at her differently, like, “Oh, she’s a slow player.” She got paranoid about rules officials, constantly feeling the need to look over her shoulder. It’s still that way to an extent.

“It was like 10 seconds and $10,000,” said a frustrated Noh. “Not even a full minute, and I got fined that much.

“If I’m being straight up, there’s a lot of players who are slower when there are no rules officials around, and they just know how to work around it.”

Noh has tried to focus on the positive. She had a long talk with her trainer and mental coach this week about waiting for her time to come. Several of her peers have won majors of late, including fellow rookie Patty Tavatanakit and Yuka Saso. Noh still thinks about the AJGA Thunderbird Invitational when she finished second to Saso. None of that feels too long ago.

“It just drives me to work harder,” said Noh, “but I don’t want to rush myself. I don’t want to be like ‘Oh since they did it, I have to do it, too.’ Everyone has their own timing. Inspired by them, but I don’t want to be rushed.”

Winning isn’t the only thing on her mind. Noh, currently ranked 62nd, also has a chance at making her first Solheim Cup team in 2021. Her best bet is to qualify off the Rolex Rankings (two spots) or be selected as one of three of U.S. captain Pat Hurst’s picks. The team will be finalized after the AIG Women’s British Open (Aug. 19-22). Noh represented the U.S. on both Junior Ryder Cup and Junior Solheim Cup teams.

“It would be amazing,” said Noh, “and I still believe that I have a good chance at it.”

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Check the yardage book: Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship