Second place pays well on the PGA Tour, but a solid paycheck is not what Kevin Na seeks.
After runner-up finishes in each of the last two weeks, Na flew halfway around the world to Malaysia with the hopes of snagging an elusive victory at the CIMB Classic. Thanks in large part to a third-round 64 that moved him within a shot of the lead, he has a chance to do just that.
Na's lone PGA Tour win came at the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. But he has not lacked for opportunity, recording eight second-place finishes, including five runner-ups since March 2014. That recent tally includes a playoff loss at the season-opening Frys.com Open, and a T-2 finish last week in Las Vegas where he fell one shot short on a course he calls home.
This time, he will need to catch Justin Thomas and Brendan Steele, who share the lead at 20 under.
"Eight times in my career I finished second. Well, I got to keep the streak alive, don't I?" Na said. "Worst case I win, right? If I don't keep the streak alive. That's the attitude I'm trying to have."
Na earned one of those eight runner-ups at this event a year ago, finishing T-2 behind Ryan Moore. He also won in Malaysia as a 19-year-old in 2002 en route to being named the Asian Tour's Rookie of the Year.
Thirteen years later, he hopes to hoist another trophy and switch the discussion away from how many times he has merely come close. His game is clearly peaking, and so too is his on-course demeanor.
"I've had some tournaments that I threw away, and I have some tournaments that I feel like I got beat. I don't know, I've been unlucky a few times," he said. "But you know what? The last few weeks I've never felt so comfortable coming down the stretch.
"I think that's been the difference - comfortable but still finished second," he added. "Maybe I'll feel comfortable finishing second, or worst case, I win."