What they said: Kevin Natext sizeJanuary 07, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive
JOHN BUSH: Kevin Na joins us after a 9?under par 64. Kevin, quite a round, and what a finish there on 17 and 18. Just talk a little bit about that portion, please.
KEVIN NA: I think it'll be the best finish of my life. I don't think I can do much better than that. Yesterday was kind of a slow round. I only made two birdies. And today, again, got off to a slow start. I was even par through eight holes and didn't get anything going until 9. I hit a really good putt from about 12 feet, made birdie. That kind of got my round going. Back nine all of a sudden it started coming together and I started hitting some good iron shots in there, made some good putts, and I had it 5?under and I was pretty pleased.
And 17 I had 219 and off that hook lie, it was right?to?left wind, I had 5?iron in. Kenny and I felt we needed to hold it in there to have a perfect distance, and I hit a little holder, a little cut, held its line perfect, landed perfect, kept getting closer and closer, and it just fell in the hole. First thing that came to my mind was, man, I can eagle 18 again, back?to?back eagles, and I calculated it in my head, that's 29.
On 18 I hit a great second shot, 3?wood, hit it so perfect. Right when it left the face I knew it was good, and rolled down there nicely, what was it, about ten feet? And it was pretty simple putt, just inside the right, and right when I hit it, it started right there, and I knew it was going to go in, and it went in.
JOHN BUSH: First player in history to ever eagle those two holes to finish a round. Nice going.
Q. You alluded to that being potentially the greatest close of all time. Have you ever made back?to?back eagles in competition, practice, etcetera?
KEVIN NA: I don't think I have. I've made two eagles in nine holes before, but I don't think I've?? no, I don't think so. I don't think I've made back?to?back eagles in my life. Now I have.
Q. Do you think that often when you?? obviously sometimes you know you have the potential to maybe shoot 59 or 29 in this instance. How often do you find yourself or other players thinking that way, of a certain number when you get that low?
KEVIN NA: I do. I mean, when I get a chance to go low, especially?? I don't know, I haven't had too many chances for 59. I think the only time I had a chance was, where was it, at the Wyndham Championship in the third round. I shot 61, and that was the only time I had that kind of creep in my head. But the 29s are pretty cool. I knew exactly what that putt was for on 18, and you could tell by my reaction. Yes, I do think about it.
Q. What did you do during the off?season to get you so fired up for the beginning of the season?
KEVIN NA: The off?season, the first month of the off?season, a little more than three weeks I spent it in Korea, I visited my brother Austin. We had a good time. Put some weight on, ate some good food, and then I came back and I went straight to the gym, and for a month I worked out pretty hard, got myself in shape and started practicing.
I started working with?? last year I worked part time with Dale Lynch, and he flew out and saw me for a couple days, and I'm going to work with him full time this year, so I'm looking forward to that, too.
Q. Kenny was saying that the putt you made on 9 kind of got the round really going. What changed from yesterday to today, just getting used to the greens or??r??
KEVIN NA: A lot of it was?? I had trouble with the speed of the greens because I had trouble reading downgrain and really trusting that it's downgrain. It's much faster into the grain; you've got to hit it harder. I got used to that. The back nine the momentum started going my way; I hit a few good shots and made a few good putts, and when I made a few putts, the confidence started building.
Honestly 17 was just luck. Yeah, I hit a great shot, but I got lucky. But the nice thing was I turned around the hole after and made two good shots and made eagle.
Q. After you made that eagle at 17, did you have to tell yourself to calm down to make sure that you weren't overly pumped up after making it??
KEVIN NA: I think these hills make me too tired to get that pumped up (laughing). I didn't have that much energy. I mean, I was very happy, but I wasn't jumping up and down or crazy or anything like that. But yeah, I mean, after a good hole like that, you always have to gather yourself, get back to what you're doing and focus.
Q. 9?under for the last 10. First part of this question: When, if ever, is the last time you've had that kind of run? And does that kind of show that we might be looking at a shootout for the last two rounds?
KEVIN NA: You know, I just realized that I was 9?under through the last 10. You know, this course, if you're rolling it well, there's plenty of birdie holes out there. You can make a string of four birdies in a row. I mean, Jonathan Byrd showed that yesterday making six birdies in a row. So it's out there. But these winds are very difficult to judge and to play, and especially on the greens. If it starts blowing over 20 miles an hour you have to play the wind on your putts, and that's what makes it difficult. But today the back nine did lay down a little bit. I think that was one of the reasons why I was able to go low.
Q. That was part of the question. Was the wind dropping this afternoon??
KEVIN NA: Uh?huh, I think when I was playing?? anywhere I think from 7 to 11 was blowing pretty hard, and then after that it started dying down.
Q. It seems like you're longer off the tee. Have you picked up some yardage working with your new coach??
KEVIN NA: I'd like to think so, but I think I'm stuck with what I've got.
Q. You waited so long to get the first win, and there was a sense that that might open the floodgates for you. Is there any residual effect from that that you can feel when you go out on the course, whether the putts are dropping or not? Is it tangible for you?
KEVIN NA: I think it's just a big weight off my shoulder. I've been searching for that first win for a long time. I worked hard, and it took me a long time to get it, but after I got it, it was a great feeling, big weight off my shoulder, and I feel like I can go out there and free?wheel it and I can get in contention and I know I've done it before, and I'll get my share of wins. If for some reason I don't win, I don't think I'll be as depressed or down on myself as I was before.
Q. So you don't feel like you have to back it up with another??r??
KEVIN NA: I do. I feel like I need to validate myself and win out here again. But I think?? and I know if I keep working hard at it, I'm going to get that second win.
Q. You're still very young relative to the group of PGA TOUR veterans, but for as long as you've been out here, since you got your card at 20, what makes you decide to make a change, particularly as big as an instructor, and why did you choose Dale Lynch and why now??
KEVIN NA: I've had some great coaches along my career, Butch Harmon, some of my local coaches, Don Brown, Craig Chapman. I've had some great coaches. But I always struggled with the driver. I was searching for something to do for me to drive it better. I mean, I'm not a long hitter, and I wasn't the straightest hitter. But once I feel like I got off the tee, I felt like the rest I did pretty well, especially around the greens.
Honestly I was tired of driving it poorly, and Dale, I worked with Dale last year, I was driving it really poorly last year, and I met him at the Masters, and he helped me out. I really liked what he had to say. I looked at my swing before the Masters and now, and my backswing is totally in a different position, and because I think my backswing is in a different position, I think my long game is getting better.
JOHN BUSH: Let's go through and make sure we have all of these covered. Birdie on No.9?
KEVIN NA: No.9, I hit a good third shot, a little long, spun it back about 12 feet. I hit lob wedge from I think 60 yards and then I rolled it in.
11, holder 7, great shot in there. I think it was about ten feet below the hole, little right?to?lefter, good putt.
12, hit lob wedge from 100 yards, below the hole again. I'd say about seven feet, good putt.
14, it was 70 yards, and actually instead of going with a lob wedge I hit a chip 54 to take the spin off. I almost holed it, hit it to about a foot.
15, had about a 50?yard chip on the bottom of the hill, and it was actually a difficult chip because you leave it short, it rolls down. Made sure I got plenty on it, hit it about seven feet, made it.
JOHN BUSH: Kevin, we appreciate your time.