Yealimi Noh has had a year on the golf course she’ll never forget after winning three consecutive national tournaments, helping the USA to a Junior Ryder Cup championship in France and taking part in her first professional tournaments while mulling making the jump to the LPGA tour.
Less than two years ago sophomore Noh was medalist as her Carondelet High School team was second at North Coast Section and third in the Northern California golf championships. Since then the Concord youth has been home schooled while spending an increasing amount of time honing her golf skills that has paid off in the past year with successes around the globe.
Her coach of nine years, Erik Stone, says, “I’ve seen many kids who were homeschooled and didn’t work as hard. Yealimi practices harder than any young golfer I know.” When she isn’t working with Stone in Alameda she spends a lot of time at Oakhurst Country Club.
This hard work has propelled Noh as she racked up a number of prestigious tournament titles, starting last December with the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship. This June she tamed the Monterey Peninsula CC course to win the 70th California Junior Girls State Championship, an event she also won in 2014 and was medalist in 2015.
But it was in her birthday month of July that her hard worked bore incredible results with championships on three consecutive weekends. Stone says, “She’s not afraid to compete with anyone. She loves competition.”
The streak began at the 43rd USGA Junior PGA Championship in Lexington, Ky. where she posted a record 24 under par.
The 70th U.S. Girls Junior Championship was closer to home at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach where Noh played 49 holes of high-stress match play on the final day. After a 3 and 2 win in the semi-final she took the championship 36-hole match 4 and 3 win over Alexa Pano, her Junior Ryder Cup teammate from Florida.
It’s believed to be the most holes ever played on the final day of any USGA championship, dating back to 1895.
She said, “Match play hasn’t been one of my strong suits, but I kept advancing. Match play is much more mental than stroke play. I just tried to think of it as stroke play—if you score well, you can win.”
At the 105th Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in Vancouver she overcame a one-stroke deficit in the final round to celebrate her 17th birthday a day late with another title.
Noh decommitted from UCLA, which had offered her a scholarship a couple years ago. She told her coach that she’s beating college players and thought the time was right to turn pro. Stone told her a few months ago that a free ride to UCLA sounded pretty good. “I wasn’t totally for her turning pro. That may have ticked her off and she’s really gone off this summer.”
At the professional CP Women’s Open in Regina, Saskatchewan, she tied for 48th as the low amateur.
Last month, she joined 11 other top American golfers on the US Junior Ryder Cup team in Paris. Noh won her singles match over British Open Girls Amateur champion Emma Spitz of Austria as the US beat Europe by one point.
After a very brief stay at home from Paris, she was off to South Korea for an LPGA tournament this month where she tied for 59th. Her parents, Brian and Kim, are South Korean immigrants. They own Happy Roll, a Japanese fusion restaurant across the street from Todos Santos Plaza.
With the 2018 tournament schedule tapering off, Yealimi Noh has the weighty decision of when she will turn professional. Until she declares, the high school senior will continue to work on her game and her studies.