Na Making his Mark in Hilton Head

By Associated PressApril 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- This pro golf thing is pretty cool for 20-year-old Kevin Na.
Na showed that Friday in the MCI Heritage with a nifty 3-under 68 that left him three strokes behind leader Ben Curtis.
And Na, the PGA Tour's youngest member, expects to hang around on the weekend at Harbour Town.
'I think for the first win, guys just breaking through, obviously you need to play well,' Na said. 'But you need some luck going your way. And yes, I do think I can win.'
He's certainly enjoying his first PGA season. Why not?
His father is there to help with his swing and give mental tips. His mother? 'She makes sure I eat right and sleep on time, keeps me focused and keeps me a good boy,' Na said, grinning.
That's part of the reason Na, whose family moved from South Korea to the United States when he was 8, bypassed a chance to go to UCLA or Arizona State.
There, he would have to split time between golf and school. He wanted the focus on the golf course, not the philosophy course.
'I thought I'd come out ahead of the guy that went through college, and hopefully in that four years, I'd be on the tour,' Na said.
A lot of college players wouldn't mind trading places with Na.
He birdied four of his opening six holes to overtake first-round leader Cameron Beckman. Then Na's inexperience came through. He chunked a chip for a bogey on the 16th hole, and later took a double-bogey on the par-3 fourth. He rebounded one last time with a chip-in birdie on the ninth.
Na has played well in the past month. He finished fourth in the Honda Classic and 28th in the BellSouth Classic after missing three straight cuts.
Na said the Honda performance made him 'more relaxed, (I) wasn't rushing anything. So I think that was a big turnaround for me.'
A victory at Harbour Town would be a major one for Curtis, the British Open champion and PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2003 who's struggled at times this season. Curtis shot a season-best 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Heath Slocum.
Curtis is atop the leaderboard for just the second time since raising the claret jug last July. He is eager to prove he's not the best major champion never to win on tour.
'I know I'm the Open champion, but at the same time you have to look past it and look to the future, not always rely on the past,' Curtis said. 'I want to prove that it was no fluke.'
So far, so good.
Curtis finished at 8-under 134, one better than Slocum, who shot a 67. Ted Purdy had a 67 and was two strokes off the lead, while Darren Clarke (66), Patrick Sheehan (66), John Huston (68), Na and 50-year-old Jay Haas (69) were three strokes back.
Curtis, who won at Royal St. George's as the 396th ranked player in the world, earned more than $1.4 million last season and was voted the tour's rookie of the year. But he has struggled to balance perks such as meeting the president and throwing out the first pitch at an Indians game with success on tour.
Curtis arrived at Harbour Town 114th on the money list and having made just one cut in his five previous tournaments, at Bay Hill. He's hoping Harbour Town helps him break through again.
'It could be,' Curtis said, smiling. 'I'm not going to make any predictions.'
On Friday, Curtis had a little luck on his side.
Curtis ranks 169th in putting this season, down from 151st in 2003. But he holed out three times, including a 109-yard wedge shot for an eagle-2 at No. 1. He also chipped in from 39 yards on the third hole and from 25 feet off the green at No. 15 -- both for birdies.
'Three zero putts,' he said. 'I haven't had three zero putts in a month.'
He rarely plays this well on tour. He shot a 64 at the WCG-NEC Invitational and tied Sergio Garcia for the first-round lead last August. But Curtis faded with rounds of 76-72-70.
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    What's in the bag: API winner McIlroy

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:59 pm

    Rory McIlroy closed in 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

    Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft

    Fairway woods: TaylorMade M3 (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX, (19 degrees) with Fujikura Rombax P95X shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4), P-730 RORS prototype (5-9), with Project X 7.0 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (48, 52, 56 degrees), Hi-Toe(60 degrees), with Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto prototype

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

    1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
    2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
    3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
    4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
    T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
    T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
    T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
    T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
    T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
    T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
    T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
    T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
    13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
    T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
    T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
    T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
    T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
    T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
    T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
    T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
    T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
    T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
    T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
    T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
    T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
    T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
    T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
    T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
    T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
    T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
    T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
    T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
    T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
    T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
    T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
    T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
    T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
    T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
    T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
    T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
    T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
    T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
    T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
    T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
    T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
    T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
    T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
    T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
    T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
    T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
    T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
    T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
    T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
    T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
    T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
    T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
    T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

    Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

    On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

    Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

    After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

    Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

    A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

    Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.