LAS VEGAS – Kevin Na didn’t need much prompting to get going on Bio Kim’s three-year suspension from the Korean Tour for flashing a middle finger.
Asked about the incident on Wednesday at the Shriners, Na, who had been mostly cracking jokes while seated in the interview room, turned serious.
“First of all, I don't know where to start,” Na said, his head down.
After detailing his relationship with Kim, to whom Na says he’d tried to be something of a “big brother” since Kim played the PGA Tour in 2011, Na called the three-year ban both “ridiculous” and “extreme.”
“Yes, what he did was wrong. Should he be fined? Yes. Three years is ridiculous,” he said.
“You're taking a man's job for three years. Yes, he was unprofessional and there should be consequences for it, but don’t take a man's job away for three years.”
On his way to victory over the weekend at the DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open, Kim directed a middle finger at the gallery after a camera shutter from a cell phone went off during his backswing on the 16th hole. Per Na’s conversation with Kim, this was not the first time Kim had heard cameras going off, and he finally lost his temper.
Prior to his suspension, Kim was leading the Korean Tour Order of Merit. As a result, he was set to qualify for the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup and was making a run at earning European Tour status.
Now Kim is banned from the KPGA, while his wife is pregnant, expecting the couple’s first child.
“He's depressed. I mean, I can hear it in his voice,” Na said. “I said, you know what? I know you're going through a rough time. Be good to your wife. I am sure it's hard for her.”
In an effort to help, Na has called “some people high up in the Korean society” and also put Kim in touch with the PGA Tour in hopes of finding him playing opportunities or status on one of the Tour’s developmental circuits.
“You can't take a man's job away for three years for one incident. Everybody makes mistakes,” Na continued. “Like I said, if this was fifth or sixth offense, I get it. But when you have no offenses and have had good behavior, you're a good guy, people like him – you can't do that to a person.
“I guess I can keep going on. I'll just leave it at that.”