There are definitely lessons that can be learned through success, but adversity is by and far the best teacher. It’s in the pressure of our bad moments that we have the opportunity to decide how we will react, choosing whether the situation will transform us or derail us, if we will bend or break.
For Yealimi Noh, adversity came at the Kia Classic earlier this season where the second-year rookie received a $10,000 slow play fine after recording two bad times in nine holes at Aviara Golf Club. The costly blow came after a ho-hum start to her season and struggles with her ball-striking. Though the 20-year-old tried to put on a brave face, it was a tough learning experience that took a toll on her both on and off the golf course.
“I was really hard on myself, and then every tournament I went to got tougher for me mentally, because of obviously the results, but just getting a fine, too,” said Noh at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “That definitely ruined my mood for sure, and I don't think I deserved it. It was hard to come back from that mentally—watching my back and trying to do something that I don't normally do.”
It was there at Atlanta Athletic Club where Noh started to make a breakthrough, carding a T-15 at the season’s third major. Another two pedestrian finishes later, she notched a T-3 at the DOW Great Lakes Bay Invitational with partner A Lim Kim and followed that up with a solo third at the Amundi Evian Championship.
A T-14 at the ISPS Handa World Invitational and a T-7 at the Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open have provided Noh plenty of momentum heading into this week’s AIG Women’s Open and she’s definitely using those positive takeaways to her advantage. Through three rounds, she sits at 6 under and three shots back of the lead despite a bogey-bogey-double finish on Saturday. Though she’ll admit she’s feeling the physical exhaustion, Noh has a renewed self-assurance in her ability derived from her good play in a major only four weeks ago.
“I have a lot of confidence and positive vibes because it was my best finish at a major at Evian,” said Noh. “My previous finishes at majors were not as good as I thought they could be but I have a lot of good vibes and good confidence for this week. My ball-striking is back to where it was and where it should be in my opinion. There’s not much to my swing but for some reason, I wasn’t hitting it well. but right now I’m hitting it a lot better and putts are going in ”
While the last month overseas has been fruitful on the golf course, Noh is also happy with the personal growth that she’s experienced throughout her time in Europe, crediting the lessons learned from her stumbles earlier in the year and time spent away from family as the reasons why. It can get lonely at times, even more so for a young person unaccustomed to being away from her parents, but she knows that this has been a big month for her in so many ways, not just professionally.
“It was really hard at the beginning of the year both mentally and physically,” said Noh. “My golf game wasn’t where I wanted it to be and everything else outside of golf was really hard for me. I’m still working through it, but I’m glad I’ve been on a good stretch in Europe. It’s also my first time being away from my parents because they usually go to all of my tournaments. But this month in Europe I’ve learned a lot and I think I grew a lot. I’m really happy with how things are trending right now because it was a tough start.”
It doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish so with all of the insight she’s gained from her successes and shortcomings, Noh is poised to make noise at Carnoustie on Sunday.