Kevin Na is playing for someone else other than himself on Sunday at the Northern Trust Open. His father Yong Na, who taught him to play golf, was diagnosed with leukemia at the end of last year and decided to stay in South Korea for treatment. “I’d really like to send that trophy over to him,” said Na on Saturday after posting four-under 67 to tie Fred Couples for second going into the final round.
Yong brought him to Riviera for the ’95 Nissan Open to watch his first PGA Tour event in ’95 when he was 10. Kevin remembers watching Freddie, who he’s paired with today, and Corey Pavin.
“I followed Corey Pavin, he gave me an autograph and I started dreaming about playing on Tour, said Kevin. “I still have the picture (with Corey). It’s pretty funny. Corey has a mustache and I’m this little chubby kid with glasses on. If you want to see it, you have to pay me, it’s that good.
“Maybe this will be my first win and it would be great. Unfortunately, my dad is not here, but my mom is here.”
Yong will be watching on TV, while also having the computer on — probably refreshing the leaderboard every few seconds for updates.
Kevin’s last victory came at the ’02 Volvo Masters in Asia with his father looping for him. That win also made him the third youngest winner in Asian Tour history.
“I mean, every kid, who is a junior golfer, grows up dreaming about winning a golf tournament, and to win it where you first came to watch a Tour event at the area where you grew up, it would be very special. I mean, I can’t find a better place than here, besides a major.”
I give Na a hard time for his ridiculously slow play (it’s rude and inconsiderate to his playing partners, the field, fans, everyone) and I’ll still have him on the clock today, but after hearing this story, I wouldn’t mind seeing him win (if Freddie doesn’t, of course).
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)