PINEHURST, N.C. – No tournament rewards maturity and patience more than the U.S. Open, and Kevin Na has proven that maxim through two rounds at Pinehurst No. 2.
While Na is just 30 years old, this is his 11th year as a professional. In the midst of a stellar season after a return from a back injury, he was quick to credit his maturation for contributing to his recent results.
“I’m a lot happier person on and off the golf course, regardless of whether I play well or bad,” Na said. “I started to realize that this isn’t everything. I started to try to enjoy it more, and I think that has helped me play better.”
Fresh off a runner-up finish at the Memorial two weeks ago, Na has built on that momentum through the first two rounds at Pinehurst. Though he had never broken par in the U.S. Open entering the week, Na has been in red figures both days thus far, including a 1-under 69 Friday that moved him into a tie for third at 3 under.
“[Shooting] 69 is pretty good. I was hoping for 68 or 67,” he said. “I was watching the telecast and the greens were holding. There were some birdie holes out there, and I was trying to shoot 2 or 3 under so I could get in the final group.”
While Na won’t play in the final group Saturday, he will be in the penultimate pairing alongside Brandt Snedeker. The pair are tied at 3 under and face the difficult task of chasing down Martin Kaymer, who leads by six and is seven shots ahead of them after back-to-back rounds of 65.
“I heard he played the No. 3 course,” Na joked. “It’s unbelievable what he’s done. Is 4 or 5 under out there? Yes. Is 10 under out there? No, I don’t think so. I guess it was out there for him.”
Heading into the third round, Na hopes to find a course setup that allows for players to go low – relatively speaking.
“Obviously, Saturday is moving day. Even the majors, they tend to set it up where you can shoot a low number,” he said. “I would like to see a condition where 3 and 4 under is out there. So that way a guy that’s playing well shoots 3 or 4 under, a guy that’s playing poorly shoots 2 or 3 over, and you get a big change in the leaderboard.”