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May 10 2012

7:15 PM

Na’s only stumble? A big tree

Watch: Na discusses his round

Kevin Na talks to SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio after his opening round at THE PLAYERS Championship.

By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Kevin Na had a course record on his mind at THE PLAYERS Championship.

And while such a lofty goal of breaking 63 at TPC Sawgrass will have to wait, Na’s opening round of 5-under 67 on Thursday was good enough to put him in contention for something even better.

“I played awesome today, made a lot of putts,” the 28-year-old Na said. The 67 was the first time in seven career starts at THE PLAYERS that he opened with a round in the 60s. In fact, it was just the second time in 17 rounds at TPC Sawgrass that Na posted a sub-70 round.

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Na
Na, whose breakthrough win on the PGA TOUR came last season at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, has four top-10 finishes and ranks 30th in the FedExCup standings in 2012. A second career victory this week would only add to an already impressive season.

The only thing that held him back on Thursday was a tree that gobbled up his golf ball on the 423-yard first hole, this after he played his opening nine in 6-under 30. Na had to take a penalty stroke after he couldn’t identify his ball in the tree and wound up with a double-bogey 6.

“It was a pretty big tree, and I asked for any volunteers to climb up the tree, but nobody spoke up,” Na joked.

Regardless, Na rebounded quite nicely with birdies on Nos. 2, 3 and 6 for a quality start to what he hopes will be another quality result.

“It’s not an easy golf course,” said Na, who has missed the cut in four of his previous six starts here but did finish tied for third in 2009. “… You have to commit, and if you don’t pull it off, there’s a lot of high numbers out there and a lot of bad things that can happen. But if you’re on and you’re playing well, you can separate yourself from the field.”

Click here to replay Kevin Na’s round on ShotTracker

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