Seung-Yul Noh. Credit Getty Images

Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh turned in one of his best performances in recent years when he fired a stellar 8-under 64 to power into contention at the halfway stage of the RSM Classic on Friday.

The 31-year-old Noh, a one-time winner on the PGA TOUR, rode on eight birdies at the Sea Island Golf Club’s Plantation Course to propel to tied seventh position on 10-under 132, just two adrift of co-leaders Andrew Putnam, Harry Higgs and Cole Hammer.

Higgs blazed the par-70 Seaside Course with a 63 to mark his career low opening 36-hole score while overnight leader Hammer, who is playing on sponsor’s exemption, continued to shine with a 67 on the Seaside Course while Putnam signed for a successive 65 on the Plantation Course to share the lead on 12-under.

China’s Marty Zecheng Dou soared with an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole en route to a solid 67 at the Seaside Course for tied 28th on 6-under while Chinese Taipei’s Kevin Yu and another Chinese, Carl Yuan will enter the weekend on 4-under after rounds of 66 (Seaside Course) and 68 (Plantation Course) respectively. Players play one round each during the first two days, with the Seaside Course being used for the weekend rounds.

Without a top-10 since 2017, Noh fired on all cylinders for a bogey-free card which he notched five straight birdies from the fourth to eighth holes before coming home with three more birdies.

“Everything went pretty good today off the tee, pretty consistent around the green too. The weather is also better, I was able to play much more comfortably,” said Noh, who won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2014 for his lone PGA TOUR victory to date.

Making his fourth start of the 2022-23 season, Noh’s best result was a tied 35th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and he will be eager to build on his strong run so far this week. He knows it will be a stern test again when players return to face the Seaside Course for the final two rounds.

“Even with two courses to deal with, I’ll just treat it like I’m playing on a new course,” said Noh, whose last top-10 was when he finished equal fifth at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship.

“Whenever you make a run of successive birdies, it’s always fun to play. I was also having fun playing along with two great people (playing partners Scott Stallings and Chesson Hadley).”

With fellow Koreans including Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, K.H. Lee and newcomer Tom Kim dominating headlines in recent times where the quartet featured in the Presidents Cup, Noh is hoping to make up for lost time after completing his two-year military service at the end of 2019.

“When I came out on Tour, I feel like I can’t compete on this level of golf because I was playing like 40 times max in two years. When I came (back) out, I feel like amateur because like lose confidence, like lose the whole routine. But definitely getting better right now. Getting more confidence as well. Yeah, game’s definitely better,” said Noh.

The 25-year-old Dou, traded three birdies against two bogeys in his opening 12 holes before chipping in for an eagle to put himself on the fringe of contention. The Chinese is seeking to improve on a career-best tied 17th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last month.

Second-Round Notes – Friday, November 18, 2022

Weather: Sunny. High of 57. Wind NNE 6-12 mph, with gusts to 15 mph.

36-hole cut: 69 professionals at 4-under 138 from a field of 154 professionals and one amateur.

Second-Round Leaderboard

Andrew Putnam                 SS-PL      65-65—130 (-12)

Harry Higgs                        PL-SS      67-63—130 (-12)

Cole Hammer                     PL-SS      64-66—130 (-12)

Joel Dahmen                      SS-PL      67-64—131 (-11)

Beau Hossler                      SS-PL      64-67—131 (-11)

Sahith Theegala                 PL-SS      68-63—131 (-11)

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