Kevin Na eagled the par-5 18th, his second consecutive eagle to finish his round of 64 on Saturday.
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Kevin Na eagled the par-4 17th when he holed out from 221 yards. He followed that with an eagle at the par-5 18th when his second shot from 277 yards landed 10 feet from the pin.
When he rolled in that 10-foot putt, he pumped his fist. Consecutive eagles are rare -- and an eagle-eagle finish had never happened at the Plantation Course.
"I think it'll be the best finish of my life," Na said. "I don't think I can do much better than that."
Indeed. It's doubtful few can do much better than Na in the last 10 holes at Kapalua. Na was 9 under in that stretch, fueling his big move up the leaderboard as he ultimately shot a 9-under 64.
That leaves him at 9 under for the tournament, in solo third place, six shots behind Steve Stricker and one behind Webb Simpson.
Na has plenty of strokes to make up if he wants to catch Stricker. But after an eagle-eagle finish, nothing seems impossible after tying a course-record for low nine with his back-nine 29.
"The 29s are pretty cool," said Na, who tied the tournament record for low 9. "I knew exactly what that putt was for on 18 and you could tell by my reaction."
Na actually was floundering a bit early in his round. He had dropped a shot at the par-4 fourth. Although he bounced back with a birdie at the par-5 fifth, he was still even par for the tournament and his round when he reached the par-5 ninth.
But a birdie there from 11 feet got him started. From there, he birdied the 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th holes before his spectacular finish.
"Back nine, all of the sudden it started coming together," Na said. "I started hitting some good iron shots in there, made some good putts, and I had it 5 under and I was pretty pleased."
Standing over his second shot at the 17th, he took out a 5 iron. Off a hook lie, he hit a little cut. After he swung, he turned to his caddie Kenny Harms and asked, "Is that the right club?"
It was. When the ball rolled into the hole, Na said he realized another eagle opportunity was coming up at the 18th. He calculated in his head -- he could shoot 29 on the back.
But he didn't have to worry about trying to control his emotions heading to the 18th.
"I think these hills make me too tired to get that pumped up," he said.
Even so, he'll certainly enter the third round pumped about his chances to make another big move. Having won his first PGA TOUR event last year, Na would love to add a second win this week.
"I feel like I need to validate myself and win out here again," he said. "But I know if I keep working hard at it, I'm going to get that second win."
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Here are the lowest nine-hole scores since 1983 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Kevin Na tied the record in Saturday’s second round.
|Player||Score||Year||Course||Round||Front or back|
|Kevin Na||29 (8 under)||2012||Plantation Course||2nd||Back|
|Vijay Singh||29 (7 under)||2004||Plantation Course||2nd||Back|
|Mike Weir||29 (7 under)||2002||Plantation Course||1st||Front|
|Greg Norman||29 (7 under)||1996||La Costa||4th||Front|
Fresh off his first PGA TOUR win last week in Las Vegas, Kevin Na was hoping to carry the momentum to this week's Frys.com Open.
Through the first 10 holes, things looked good. He had six birdies -- including four straight at one point -- and was 4 under just after making the turn.
"I was playing awesome," Na said about those first 10 holes.
But he stumbled on his second nine holes, with three bogeys before he birdied his final hole of the day. The wild day -- seven birdies, six pars, five bogeys -- ended with a 2-under 69 that leaves him in good shape going into Friday's second round.
"Oh, wow, that was a crazy round I had today," said Na, who started his round off the 10th tee. "I was hoping for ... just a low-key round, a few birdies here and there and not many bogeys, and man, it was a roller coaster for me today."
The low point came when he bogeyed his 13th hole of the day, the par-4 fourth, when he missed a par putt from inside three feet. He followed with two more bogeys in his next four holes.
"I hit a good putt," Na said. "I felt like I was a little rushed, and I hit a good putt, and it kind of wobbled on me and horseshoed, and that really threw me off."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- The headline story coming into this week’s Frys.com Open is of course Tiger Woods playing for the first time since missing the cut at the PGA Championship and in a Fall Series event for the first time in his career.
Kevin Na is doing his best to steal some of that attention.
Fresh off last week’s win in Las Vegas, Na is tied for the early lead at CordeValle, where he is 3 under after five birdies -- four of them in a row at one point -- and two bogeys through his first eight holes. So Na goes 210 career starts before winning and now he’s in position early to make a run at a second career win? There’s a long way to go of course but Na is off to a good start.
A big reason he’s in that position? Because he’s been able to avoid the rough on a wet and chilly morning. So far, he’s hit six fairways and six greens through those first eight holes on the back nine.
“The rough is high,” Na said earlier in the week. “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 undulating.”
As for Woods, he won’t tee off until 3:10 p.m. ET off No. 1 with amateur Patrick Cantlay and Louis Oosthuizen.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- Kevin Na’s whiff during the third round last week in Las Vegas got plenty of attention -- “It became a bigger story than it actually is,” said Na, who had done it before but not when leading the tournament. The bigger story of course was getting his first career victory after going 0-for-210.
“A lot of it was between the ears,” Na said Tuesday from the Frys.com Open. “
It was also physical.
“I think it was a little bit of my swing that didn't work coming down the stretch,” Na continued. “A little bit in the head, a little bit unlucky, a little bit of combination of everything. Sometimes you're not playing your best golf and you get lucky and you can get away with it.
“I think it just wasn't time. It wasn't meant to be. That's the only way I can think of it.”
And now that Na has won, he can turn his attention, at least at some point, to making next year’s Ryder Cup team. Should he do so, it would be for the American team even though Na was born in Korea.
When Na turned 18 he had the choice to be an American or Korean citizen. He chose the former, and his family chose to move here mostly because they wanted his older brother to go to college in the U.S. He did, going to UCLA and then graduate school at UNLV before becoming a professor back in Korea.
Na, meanwhile, never finished high school, turning professional before he graduated.
“Worked out good for him,” Na said of his brother. “Worked out just fine for me, too.”
Kevin Na holes a 42-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 17th hole.