Yealimi Noh is 18 and has no status on the LPGA Tour. But you wouldn't guess it by how she's playing at the Cambia Portland Classic. After rounds of 65-68-64, Noh is leading this week's LPGA event in Portland, Ore., by three over Hannah Green. Not bad for a teen who had to Monday qualify to get into the tournament.
Noh, who grew up in California, was the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion and turned professional in February, bypassing college. This is her fifth LPGA event in 2019. She's been playing under sponsor's exemptions and Monday qualifying. Noh's best finish at an LPGA tournament also came at an event where she Monday-qualified: the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July. She finished T-6 that week, playing in the final group on Sunday. It looks like she's setting herself up for another top finish with this Monday qualifying opportunity.
In her third round at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Noh averaged 276 yards off the tee and missed just two greens. She birdied four of her last five holes to take the lead from Green, who won her first LPGA title at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
"I was hoping for a good week, but to be in contention, I'm really excited," Noh said. "Yesterday, too, I was just like, I couldn't really sleep. I was excited to come out and try to move on moving day."
Noh says she's trying not to think about winning, but knows that a win would be life-changing.
The last time a Monday qualifier won an LPGA event was in 2015 when Brooke Henderson won. Guess what tournament? Yes, the Cambia Portland Classic.