Na leads Kuchar; Fowler lurking

By Doug FergusonMay 12, 2012, 11:01 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Na is slow to pull the trigger, and quick to make fun of himself.

In what made for painful viewing Saturday in The Players Championship – for fans at the TPC Sawgrass and those watching from home – Na took hundreds of waggles as he set up over the ball, backed off the shot if he didn't feel comfortable and a couple of times purposely missed so he could start over.

The only number that mattered was a 4-under 68, one of only three bogey-free rounds on a dangerous golf course. Backing off only once in the 18th fairway, he hit his approach to 15 feet for birdie and took a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar (69) going into the final round.

''There's so much on the line that I just have to sometimes back off,'' Na said. ''Or I'll force myself to take it back, and on the way down I'll pull up and go over the top (of the ball). As ugly as it is, and as painful as it is, believe me, it's really tough for me. And I'm trying.''

Kuchar had the lead until hitting a wedge into the water at the island-green 17th and escaping with a bogey, and he saved par from the rough-covered moguls to the right of the 18th green. He had one stretch of eight holes without a par, making six birdies and a bogey.

Rickie Fowler, coming off his first PGA Tour win last week at Quail Hollow, was dynamic as ever as he shot up the leaderboard. Fowler didn't make a bogey until the last hole but still had the best score of the third round with a 66 and was two shots behind. He is trying to become the first player since David Duval in 1997 to win his first two PGA Tour titles in consecutive weeks.

Na, playing with Zach Johnson, was on the clock throughout the back nine, and he was given a bad time on the 16th hole. He made an unsuccessful appeal, claiming he went over the allotted time because his caddie's shadow was in the way.

Na is not oblivious to how bad it looks, how slow he plays or the reaction from all corners.

''Trust me, I get ripped a lot,'' he said. ''I know TV, Twitter and fans are tired of me backing off. I understand people being frustrated with me backing off, but all I can tell you guys is honestly, I'm trying. And it's hard for me, too.

''But just bear with me, and hopefully we get that tomorrow round in.''

Na, who won for the first time last fall in Las Vegas, was at 12-under 204. The 54-hole leader has not won The Players Championship since it moved to May in 2007, and a one-shot lead is never safe at Sawgrass.

Texas Open champion Ben Curtis also played bogey-free. He just didn't have as many birdies, missing from inside 10 feet on his last two holes for a 70. He was five shots behind, along with Johnson, who bogeyed the last hole for a 73.

Tiger Woods never came close to getting into contention, though he gave himself plenty of chances. The card shows two birdies, two bogeys and a 72 that left him 10 shots out of the lead going into the final round. It was hard for him to digest.

''I played well today and didn't get anything out of that round,'' Woods said. ''It was probably the most solid I've hit the golf ball all year, actually. Even though I hit a couple off line, they were just hit dead flush. I just got nothing out of the round.''

Na, long known as one of the slowest players in golf, attributes his bizarre routine of waggles and whiffs to a swing change. He and Johnson, also known for his slow pace, were on the clock throughout the back nine. Na was given a bad time on the 16th hole while on the clock, meaning one more bad time and he would have become the first PGA Tour player in 20 years to get a one-shot penalty.

He appealed the bad time – and lost – claiming his caddie's shadow was in the way and he had to back off. Na was not on the clock playing the last two holes.

Na is equally famous for taking a 16 on one hole in the Texas Open last year. It didn't take nearly as much time to take those 16 shots, though Na explained he plays more quickly when he's in trouble. He said it's takes longer to get a clear picture in his head when playing from the fairways.

''It's probably when I'm in the trees I hit it faster,'' he said. ''But I don't want to play from the trees.''

Na said players tell him they get the short straw when paired with him, and they are only half-kidding. After backing off one shot on the sixth tee, he apologized to Johnson.

''I'm good friends with Zach, and Zach understands,'' Na said. ''I think the only guy that would really understand is Sergio (Garcia) if I played with him, because he's gone through it.''

Garcia struggled with re-grips and waggles in 2002 and was hammered by the New York gallery in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Na better get this fixed quickly – The Barclays is going to Bethpage in August.

''I know it's frustrating,'' he said. ''It's frustrating for me. I want to pull the trigger. ... It's getting better little by little. Hopefully, it will go away by the end of the year.''

The first step is getting through Sunday.

Kuchar, who also challenged at the Masters, is getting by with control of his driver and his emotions. Even on a poor tee shot at the 14th, the worst Kuchar could say was, ''Oh, stinker!'' What cost him more was a ball sinking to the bottom of the pond at the 17th, though Kuchar can't argue with his position in the last group Sunday.

''It was exciting,'' Kuchar said. ''A lot of birdies and a lot more bogeys than I normally make. But I knew today was going to be a tricky day. I knew there were going to be a lot of bogeys. I knew there were dangers around every corner.''

Fowler still sees himself as an underdog, even though he broke through last week at Quail Hollow to win in a playoff that included Rory McIlroy. The last player to win consecutive weeks on tour was Woods in 2009. Woods, Tom Kite in 1989 and Raymond Floyd in 1981 are the only players to make that second straight win The Players Championship. Fowler figured no one gave him much of a chance.

That might change now.

''I feel like I'm in kind of an underdog position – maybe overlooked at the start of the week, won last week, maybe a little tired,'' Fowler said. ''I'm ready to go. Like I said last week, it's all about giving yourself chances out here, and I gave myself a chance last week on Sunday and took advantage of it. Go out tomorrow, have some fun, give it our best shot and see where that puts us.''

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.