What they said: Kevin Natext sizeOctober 04, 2011
PGA TOUR staff
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Kevin Na. Kevin, congratulations on your win last week in Las Vegas. If you want to talk about kind of what it's been like since getting your first win on TOUR and then we'll take some questions.
KEVIN NA: It feels great. Even though I'm exhausted, you know, I wake up with a smile, and life is good.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll take a few questions.
KEVIN NA: Well, you know, the nicest thing that I realized that I'm a member of the TOUR for life. And you know, I know if you get 150 cuts, then you also get the same. I was at 132, I believe. So I was getting pretty close. I figured next year I was getting pretty close to getting to 150 cuts and I was going to be a lifetime member. And I was hoping I would win before that, and it was nice to get a win before 150 cuts.
KEVIN NA: Yes, I do.
KEVIN NA: No. My mother is an American citizen, and so when I turned 18 -- I was born in Korea, so when I turned 18 I basically had a choice. I could become an American citizen or stay a Korean citizen, and I chose to be an American citizen and so I just filled out the paperwork and got it in the mail.
KEVIN NA: Yes. Well, I had a talk with Tim Finchem actually when I first got on TOUR. I guess the tournaments natural eyes American citizens and whether you're born here or your parents. So I guess I fell under -- I was still naturalized American citizen, so I was eligible for the Ryder Cup, which I am very happy about.
KEVIN NA: That wasn't -- he said that we're going to look through it. It's not your choice. We go strictly by what your status is, and he said, you are eligible for the Ryder Cup team and you will play for the U. S. team. And I was pretty happy to hear that.
Q. Kevin, you said you were exhausted. Did you think about pulling out of this week??
KEVIN NA: No. No. I was committed to play here, and I am here to play.
KEVIN NA: Yes.
KEVIN NA: That's a good question. Yeah. Maybe Tim talked to me. I don't know. I just remember I was there with -- at the time was Ted Wilson, Tim Finchem, and they said we'll get back to you the next day, and they just got back to me.
KEVIN NA: Okay.
Q. Kevin, it seems that your quote, unquote whiff swing from last week got almost as much publicity as your win.
KEVIN NA: It's almost my 16, too.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about that? I've seen the video. It doesn't look like you actually whiffed it. It looks like you were trying to pull up.
KEVIN NA: I definitely pulled up. There's no question. I think as interesting as I could be, it became a bigger story than it actually really is.
I've done it many times. I think the last time I did something like that on TV was at the 15th hole at the Travelers, the drivable par-4. I did just about exactly the same thing, and I wasn't anywhere near the lead, so it wasn't a big deal, I guess. But now I was in the lead and I did something similar and it became a big deal.
And I just talked to Mark Whelchel and Slugger White right when I was making the turn, and I said, guys, you know, the story became bigger than what it actually is.
They said, don't worry about it. Slugger said he got a call, and he said, yeah, can you come take a look at this; Kevin might have whipped it. He said, I thought you were in the trees or something. Looking at the TV at it, he turned it on, he said, that's not a whiff. He said he missed it by 16 inches above the ball. And I don't remember a TOUR player missing a ball -- I mean I can close my eyes and hit the ball. But what it was it was coming down, it didn't feel good. I pulled up and I didn't make contact.
KEVIN NA: Yes. I believe it's --
KEVIN NA: The rules say that a player can set up and if his intention during the swing is not to hit the ball, it's all about the intention of what your intentions are.
KEVIN NA: No. What I heard it was somebody else. Mark Whelchel just told me about that. He said this time of year, they look in the decision book, but they changed it.
KEVIN NA: Yeah.
KEVIN NA: Well -- (laughs). If Tiger is strong enough to (indiscernible), good for him. I'm not, so I'm going to go over it. But I definitely think he looks cooler stopping halfway down.
KEVIN NA: I think it was a little bit of my swing that didn't work coming down the stretch, a little bit in the head, a little bit unlucky, a little bit of combination of everything, I think. Sometimes you're not playing your best golf and you get lucky and you can get away with it.
I don't know. I think it just wasn't time. It wasn't meant to be. That's the only way I can think of it. That's the best way for me to put it.
But you know, now's better than never.
KEVIN NA: Oh, it wasn't golf at all. It was my parents wanted me to -- my brother and I, my oldest brother. It was more for him. They wanted him to go to college in the States, and they wanted me to go to college in the States.
My brother -- (laughs). But yeah, I started playing golf, and yeah, my brother got a great education. He went to UCLA, UNLV for grad school and now he teaches at the University of Korea, so worked out good for him. Worked out just fine for me, too.
KEVIN NA: No.
KEVIN NA: Yeah, I do. Does that count? Is that good enough?
KEVIN NA: Okay.
Q. (Indiscernible). What did you do on Sunday night? Did you go out and celebrate?
KEVIN NA: Yeah. I went out and dinner with a few friends, and I went out for a drink, I guess. I don't drink at all anyway, so I think I had one shot of sake, and that was it. It tasted good.
Q. Did you play the course today??
KEVIN NA: Yes, I did.
Q. And what do you think of the layout, and also it's a little wet and obviously it's rained --
KEVIN NA: Actually it wasn't as wet as I thought it would be. The course is in great shape. It looked like a pretty difficult golf course. The rough is high. If you hit it in the rough, you're going to be penalized.
You definitely have to hit some good iron shots because you have to place your ball in a good spot to make putts because the greens are very undulated. I heard Rocco shot 15-under the last year and I was pretty impressed with how low the scores were looking at the golf course.
I don't know how low the scores are going to be this year, but to me you definitely have to play some good golf to go low here.
Q. (Indiscernible). Civilian friends when Tiger's playing. People tracking him as much as they used to?
KEVIN NA: I think so. I mean I still do. I'm still a Tiger fan. I watched him play when I was a kid. And yeah, people still ask me -- I think the biggest question they ask is do you think he'll win again. I say definitely. He's definitely going to win again.
But I also tell them that people don't realize how much other players have stepped up to his level and how there's so many other players that can win majors and win at any time and beat him because their game has improved. And so it's not just Tiger playing poorly. I think we need to give more credit to the other guys that have stepped it up and played well.
Q. The players who have stepped it up (indiscernible).
KEVIN NA: I think this year was a little more than normal. Obviously you had a lot of first-time winners and first-time major winners, but I gotta admit Tiger was very dominant in the past ten years. And I think he overshadowed -- put everybody in his shadow. But I think lately there's more guys that are breaking through. It's kind of nice to see.
KEVIN NA: I think it could be a coincidence. I think it all depends on how you look at it. But I definitely don't know the answer to that question.
Q. You mentioned Rocco. You're playing with him. How do you feel about playing with the defending champion??
KEVIN NA: I feel great. For some reason I had a feeling I was going to play with Rocco. I told Kenny, I said, you know what, I think I'm going to play with Rocco and maybe Tiger. But we missed Tiger.
But yeah, Rocco is a great player. I watched him play here on Sunday. I remember I was in Vegas in the golf shop at TPC Summerlin, and I saw him hole out on 17 and I thought it was very cool. Everybody was screaming in there.
And I said, yeah, everyone is driving the green. He laid up. And he holed that. He made the eagle the old-fashioned way. And I thought it was awesome. And Rocco's an interesting guy. He's a fun guy to play with, so I think I'll have some fun.
THE MODERATOR: Everybody good? Thanks a lot, Kevin. Good luck this week.