Kevin Na got off to a shaky start at Riviera on Sunday, which actually made him play faster at times on the front nine, but he pulled it together, draining two clutch putts in the final two holes. It wasn’t enough to capture his first win on the PGA Tour and send the trophy to his sick father in Korea, but he was happy with his solo third-place finish at the Northern Trust Open.
“I let my friends down a little bit, but not too much,” Na said. “I’m going to take the positives out of this week. It was still a great week.”
Na’s father Yong was diagnosed with leukemia at the end of last year and stayed in Korea for treatment. When Kevin spoke to the media after his round on Sunday, he hadn’t spoken to his dad yet. “I think he’s still proud of me,” said Kevin. “I didn’t talk to him last night. I think he didn’t call me on purpose — he didn’t want to put pressure on me.”
Kevin, who is a great putter, couldn’t find his putting stroke early in the round. He pushed about four short ones to the right, which he thinks cost him the tournament.
“I missed a lot of short putts,” said Kevin. “My speed was off and the greens are super firm and tough. It was a little disappointing, my bread and butter let me down, but I’ll take the positives.”
Now Kevin seems like a nice enough guy during interviews and he wasn’t as excruciating to watch on Sunday because everyone was playing slow in the last group, so I almost feel bad, but his lengthy pre-shot routine is really unfair to his playing partners and the rest of the field. When I timed Na, Freddie Couples and Aaron Baddeley, Kevin easily won the slowest player award. Between the pace of him and J.B. Holmes (whom I watched on Saturday — a really, really nice guy, but apparently inconsiderate), it’s no wonder the first and second rounds aren’t finished on time. While players are put on the clock, I wasn’t born the last time someone was actually given a two-stroke penalty.
I wish I had a better photo to post of Na, like where his caddie is plum-bobbing or lining him up for every tee and fairway shot. However, Geoff Shackelford captured one of those Kodak moments. A few of us were joking (actually, I don’t think Shack was) out on the course and suggested Na was on the wrong tour…
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)