Sueng-Yul Noh broke his driver in the middle of the round but it didn’t slow him down.
The 31-year-old South Korean shot a bogey-free 11-under 60 on Thursday at TPC Craig Ranch in the opening round of the AT&T Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas.
“Just everything was going amazing,” Noh said. “One shot missed to 59, but I’m really happy with that.”
On the 12th hole, Noh cracked the face of his driver, the first time in his career he said he’s ever done that.
“When I hit on 12, I’m swinging so nicely feel like, but keep going like 70 yards going right,” Noh said. “So I just look at the driver and it got the crack in it.”
A friend fetched his backup, which he legally was allowed to replace, and he fitted the head to his shaft on the 15th tee.
Noh had a chance to try to reach the 18th green in two at the par-5 finishing hole and give himself his best chance to break 60, but elected to lay up and settled for a closing birdie.
Noh made nine birdies and an eagle on the day.
Equipment issues for the clubhouse leader @ATTByronNelson.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 11, 2023
He birdied four of his first six holes and then capped off the front nine with an 8-foot eagle at the ninth. Noh’s putter did its part on the second nine as he poured in a 40-foot birdie at No. 11. He tacked on birdies at 14 and 15. Swinging his backup driver for the first time at 16, his shot sailed right and into trouble but he drained a 27-foot par putt, earning him a congratulatory fist to the butt by fellow competitor James Hahn.
“After making long par putt, I talked to James Hahn, I said, ‘What’s going on? What’s happening today?’ He said, ‘Just don’t think about it, just go play. No idea, just go make everything today.’ ”
Noh followed those orders. He buried a 34-foot birdie putt at 17 to give himself a legit chance to shoot 59.
Needing an eagle at the par-5 18th, Noh struck a beautiful drive, leaving himself 257 yards to the hole with water fronting the green, but opted to lay up to 87 yards. He wedged to 9 feet and rolled in the putt for 60.
“My 3-wood going off the ground like 265 off the ground, but it’s like just under 260 without the wind. It’s like borderline,” said Noh, explaining why he didn’t go for the green. “I was just trying to make birdie and forget the eagle and 59.”
He set his career-low round on the PGA Tour thanks to holing 180 feet of putts.
“For some guys that’s a week’s worth,” said PGA Tour Live’s Colin Swatton.
The 60 ties the lowest round on Tour this season, joining Patrick Cantlay who shot the figure in the 2022 Shriner’s Childrens Open in Las Vegas in October.
Noh has missed the cut at the Byron Nelson in his last three appearances at the Tour’s annual stop in suburban Dallas, including last year at TPC Craig Ranch.
Noh has one PGA Tour victory to his credit at the 2014 Zurich Classic of New Orleans when it was an individual event. Noh served a two-year stint in the military from 2017 to 2019. The last three winners of the AT&T Byron Nelson have all been Koreans.