By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- The Frys.com Open was Kevin Na's first start since the Masters in April. Bulging discs in his back forced him to sit out the majority of the 2013 season.
The 2013-14 season is off to a good start for the one-time PGA TOUR winner, though. Na shot consecutive 64s on the weekend at CordeValle Golf Club to post 14-under 270 (75-67-64-64); he was two shots behind co-leaders Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka when he completed play.
"It's nice to be back, especially to get off to a good start," Na said. "I felt great coming into the weekend and I just tore it up. I hit it really good, putted great. I'm very happy."
Na did rehab for approximately 2 1/2 months in his native Korea after the Masters. He made one rehab start on the Web.com Tour -- finishing 65th in last month's Hotel Fitness Championship, the first event of the Web.com Tour Finals -- before the Frys.com Open.
Na will return to familiar grounds next week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The host site, TPC Summerlin, is his home course. He won his only TOUR title there in 2011. The Frys.com Open will be Na's first top-10 since last July's The Greenbrier Classic.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Kevin Na has company.
Bubba Watson also recorded a 10 on the par-3 12th hole Sunday at Augusta National.
The defending champion rinsed his tee shot, hit his third from the drop area, and again found the water.
Watson's fifth shot carried into the back bunker before his pitch ran through the green and into the water again. Watson played out sideways from the sand on his eighth shot then got up-and-down for the 10.
The score dropped Watson to 6 over on the day and to 8 over for the week.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Kevin Na made history two years ago with a 16 on the ninth hole at TPC San Antonio during the first round of the Valero Texas Open.
Sunday, he added to that dubious honor with a 10 on the par-3 12th hole Augusta National after hitting his tee shot into the water three consecutive times.
"It happens," said Na, who hit 8-iron all three times. "I went for the flag, obviously you're not supposed to, but I'm back of the field, trying to make a birdie, maybe a 1.
"I hit a bad shot and I wanted to try it again and hit another bad one. There was no point in me going to the drop zone. Plus, the drop zone it's actually a very difficult shot with the right pin. You have no room to work with."
Na's not-so-perfect 10 was the highest single-hole score recorded this week, surpassing Hiroyuki Fujita's 9 on the par-5 13th in the second round.
Give Na credit, though. He tipped his cap to the crowd after putting out.
The highest-ever score recorded on No. 12 was a 13 by Tom Weiskopf in 1980, which also matches the highest single-hole score in Masters history.
Arturo Morales, a 51-year-old from San Juan, aced the eighth hole at Trump International on Wednesday in the Puerto Rico Open pro-am and won a new Acura TSX. Morales, an 8 handicap who was partnered with Kevin Na, scored his first ace after 20 years of trying.
The eighth at Trump International was playing 168 yards, and Morales used an 8-iron. It's a good thing Figueroa didn't have to play the back tees -- the hole plays 236 yards for the Puerto Rico Open.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Kevin Na made great strides in driving accuracy as he went from 142nd on TOUR in 2011 to 25th last year. At the same time, though, he dropped from eighth to 57th in strokes gained putting and 24th to 82nd in par breakers so Na will be looking to reverse that trend as he searches for TOUR win No. 2 next year.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: For the second straight year, Na posted six top-10 finishes. His best chance to win came on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass where Na held a one-stroke advantage through three rounds of THE PLAYERS Championship. He closed with a 76, though, and ended up in a tie for seventh. – Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I admire Kevin. Under the spotlight of THE PLAYERS Championship, the world discovered Kevin’s problems driving the ball. He repeatedly backed off in the third round. Na answered every question following the round and corrected the problem later in the year. I thought Na showed a lot of courage. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Coming off his fourth consecutive season over $2 million. Chalked up another six top 10s to match his output from 2011. A shoulder injury late in the year slowed his roll, but he'd rebound with three straight top 25s worldwide, including a solo second on the Korean Tour. Won't turn 30 until September and continues to maintain a full schedule. Not worth the time in salary games, but he'll be right at home in the core of rotisserie rosters. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Facebook
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
||Arnold Palmer Invitational|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 18
Rounds played: 79
Top-10 finishes: 6
Money List rank: 38th
Driving distance: 165th
Driving accuracy: 25th
Greens in regulation: 165th
Strokes gained-putting: 57th
Scoring average: 75th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is you prediction for Kevin Na in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
Following a second-round 66, Kevin Na reflects on his play in the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
Have a question for Kevin? Send us your questions for Direct Connect -- PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a pro each week -- and host John Swantek might use it when he chats with Na, winner of the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Also, we are now taking video submissions of questions. If you would like to send a video of you asking your question, please email the video to email@example.com. Please keep video to 20 seconds or less, shoot landscape style, and include your name and where you’re from in the text of your email.
Direct Connect video is posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM, so please check back then for the Na interview.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the RBC Canadian Open below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Ernie Els vs. Vijay Singh||Two of the game's best over-40 players. Or best players, period.|
|Jim Furyk vs. Sean O'Hair||Furyk won here in 2006; O'Hair is defending champion|
|Matt Kuchar vs. Hunter Mahan||Mahan started the season on fire; lately, Kuchar's been hot|
|Brandt Snedeker vs. Scott Stallings||It's Vanderbilt (Nashville) vs. Tennessee Tech (Cookeville)|
|Robert Garrigus vs. Charlie Wi||FedExCup surprises in '12 -- both are on the top 30 bubble|
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The last time we saw Kevin Na, he was struggling with his pre-shot routine at THE PLAYERS Championship and being targeted as the poster boy for slow play in golf.
Say hello to the new and improved -- and much quicker -- Kevin Na.
In his first round since THE PLAYERS, Na shot an even-par 70 in Thursday's first round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. But his score was overshadowed, at least on this day, by the significant changes he made in his pre-shot routine.
Gone are the series of waggles and half-waggles and step-backs and resets that were on display at TPC Sawgrass. He vowed to limit himself to one practice swing for each shot, and other than one shot on his final nine, he stayed true to that routine.
The 28-year-old Na said that since THE PLAYERS Championship -- in which he held the 54-hole lead before posting a final-round 76 that dropped him into a tie for seventh -- his only goal was to quicken the pace of his routine. He said he hasn't worked on any other aspect of his game in the last 10 days prior to Thursday.
"It's the only thought I had," he said. "... I need to change this. This is all I'm going to do. This is all I'm going to think about and I'm going to get it done.
"I'm actually surprised how quickly I'm doing this."
Na said this his new routine now goes like this: "One practice swing at the ball. Put the club behind the ball. Look at the target. Keep staring at the target. Put my feet in when I feel comfortable, when I feel like I'm balanced."
He acknowledged that it affected his play early in Thursday's round, as he bogeyed his opening hole and his fifth hole. But he made three consecutive birdies around the turn and was under par for his round until a late bogey.
During the round, he was looking back at the groups behind him to make sure he wasn't holding up play. "I'm constantly looking because the arrow always points toward me."
Asked if his faster routine became easier as the round continued, Na said it did not.
"Every shot is hard," he said. "I'm constantly thinking about it. I'm not even thinking about my golf swing. It's kind of hurting me a little bit. I always have a swing thought but right now I don't have time to have a swing thought. Just got to think about my pre-shot routine and get ready and go."
It didn't help matters that the winds at Colonial were gusting up to 30 mph. Na said the winds kicked up during his second shot at the par-4 fifth and that caused him to reset for the only time.
"It's hard as it is that I'm actually trying a brand-new routine," he said. "... I probably choose the hardest round to try my pre-shot routine."
Na said he also tried to maintain a quick pace on the greens.
At the seventh hole, he faced a 29-foot uphill birdie putt. With the wind gusting downhill, Na said he "really wanted to back off" but instead went ahead and putted, with the ball rolling five feet past the hole. He missed the comebacker to save par.
At one point in his round, one of his playing partners, John Huh, told Na that he thought he was taking the pre-shot routine to the extreme.
When asked after his round if he felt like he was going too fast, Na replied: "Want to know the honest truth? Sometimes at the top of my backswing, I go, 'I can't believe I'm already here.' "
Na said he isn't the type of person to make gradual changes, which is why the changes on Thursday were so markedly different than the last time he played.
"I'm one of those guys, if I'm going to fix it, I'm going to do it right now," he said. "I'm not going to go little by little. I'm going to change the whole thing."