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« Barkley: "Kevin Na is my hero. Welcome to my world." | Main | Hawkins Let's Slip: Morning Drive's Kuselias Reassigned »
Saturday
May122012

Na-rcissism Takes Over The Players!

From Doug Ferguson's game story, which opened with talk of slow play instead of the tournament at hand: The Players, Presented By The First Tee!

Anyway, Kevin Na leads and those comments from Commissioner Denial look so funny after Saturday's debacle. (And the irony of doing this with notorious slow poke Zach Johnson is rather delicious.)

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."

Shouldn't he be trying, oh I don't know, maybe at home? In practice? And not on a stage like The Players Presented By The First Tee?

Note the sarcasm in Garry Smits' Florida Times-Union game story.

"As ugly and painful as it is, believe me, it's really tough for me and I'm trying," said the native of South Korea and a naturalized U.S. citizen. "I get ripped a lot. I know TV, Twitter and fans are tired of me backing off. But bear with me — hopefully we get that [Sunday] round in."

If Na falters in the final round or somehow never finishes, there's a long list of contenders ready to add to a streak of five consecutive tournaments in which the Players champion came from behind on Sunday.

Jeff Rude on Na's problems.

This guy makes Ben Crane look like a bullet train. On the sixth tee, for example, the tally for Na went thusly: five practice swings, 24 waggles, two back offs and one “Sorry, Zach.”

Na and playing competitor Zach Johnson were put on the clock on the 10th tee and taken off on the 17th tee. In between, Na got a bad time when hitting his second shot on No. 16. Two bad times in a round call for a one-stroke penalty, though the PGA Tour hands those out like man-hole covers.

Cameron Morfit notes that the media fell for Na's one-liners after the round:

Na may be slow, but he was quick to get the writers on his side. He’s clearly tortured by his problem, so much so that it would have surprised no one if he’d begun crying in the interview room. The laughter broke the tension.

“Just bear with me,” he said, “and hopefully we get that [Sunday] round in.”

Na and the writers cracked up. Get the round in? As hard as Sawgrass is, and the way Na is fighting himself, no one was taking it for granted.

The PGA Tour Censors Rightholders Protection Unit will be working overtime Sunday since the "waggle problem" was mentioned but left out of the third round highlight package.  So just to help them get a head start on the censoring, I thought I'd post the best of the Na swing yips.



And...



And...



And my favorite, set to a most appropriate soundtrack...

Some of the comments from the NBC/Golf Channel gang were interesting.

First, from the telecast:

Dan Hicks: He is struggling, this is amazing.

Roger Maltbie: And then just rifles it in the center of the fairway.

Peter Jacobsen:  That is just unbelievable.

Hicks: I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.

Johnny Miller:  I feel bad for him. I mean really, it is embarrassing to him.  It’s not like he wants to do this.

Huh? If he apologizes for it before the round to his playing partners, then he knows he's going to be doing it. And if he knows he is going to be engaging in conduct unbecoming of a professional, he should stay home. Na?

And from Golf Channel's Live From the Players, where in this video they dissect many more of the weird moments:

Brandel Chamblee: “We hear guys talking about needing swing coaches, sports psychologists, fitness instructors or changing managers.  He needs an exorcist.  I half expect winged bulls to fly out of his head when he is standing over a shot.  I’m not sure if Sigmund Freud were alive he could figure this one out.  But the fact is he hits marvelous shots.  It is almost like all of the angst is unjustified.”
 
Frank Nobilo: “It is such an unusual rhythm and a round of golf.  You feel for the guy doing it, but you want to say, ‘Come on, let’s just go,’ and the guy can’t move.”
 
Roger Maltbie: “It is so amazing to watch him struggle to get the club back from the ball and make a backswing.  And then you will hear him yell at himself and all of a sudden he just stripes it.  He hit so many good quality shots after having to call off the shot – so to speak – a number of times.  I don’t know how he is doing it, I’ll be honest. It is amazing.”
 
Gary Koch: “I certainly can’t remember anything like it.  Obviously you see players back off shots when they are uncomfortable but they tend go back to their pre-shot routine, whatever that may be.  The interesting thing to me about Kevin Na was how he was able, in midstream, just get back over the ball and continually hit good shots.  You would think the results would not be very good.”

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Reader Comments (44)

Kevin Na: Look Children, This is how to play golf!
05.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBuddha
"And if he knows he is going to be engaging in conduct unbecoming of a professional, he should stay home. Na?"

Hopefully, this will be taken seriously during the final round, and slow play penalty shots applied. Otherwise, the inmates will control the institution.
05.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarney
A pure dilemma for the tour. If they penalize Na out of a title, they'll appear cruel, to be picking on a head case. If they allow him to screw up the tournament for the other contenders, they'll be accused of giving him an unfair advantage out of sympathy.
05.12.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhighside
Finchem would never consider this conduct unbecoming. But if Na swore while whiffing or false waggling, then he'd be horrified. They are both disgraces to golf.
05.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
Highside might have said
"If they penalize Na out of a title, they'll appear DELETE<cruel>INSTEAD: very sensible- conscious of how very stupid it looks and what an example it sets.
Some of those swings look like air shots. Is it just assumed that pros never hit air shots off the tee so would never get penalised for it? He's basically making a full backswing, then goes over the ball and does a pretty full follow through, and his feet aren't backing away.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenteract38
Blimey, I thought his reputation for slow play was just down to, er, slow play and not the swing yips. It is astonishing he's still able to score so well with this routine but his head has obviously convinced him that if he doesn't do it this way, then he won't make a good shot.

Given he's right in the mix for a win, the tour should give him a pass this time but be warned it will result in penalty shots in future, regardless of where he is in the field.

If Sergio can fix his address yips then I see no reason why Na's swing routine can't be re-educated with a bit of help eg hypnosis.

He certainly should stop the whiffing. Some of them were so violent as to almost look like a missed shot rather than just a whiff.
Slow play from disorganized approach to the shot or overanalysis and prolonged caddy discussion is one thing. Slow play because of something akin to a mental block is another.
Although I'm sympathetic to the problems associated with this and the criticism it brings, my compassion goes only so far.
I would like to hear Kevin say he is seeing a sports psychologist or a hypnotist or someone who could possibly help.

If it is not a tournament or big-money situation, if there are no cameras, I wonder if the problem exists. My suspicion is yes.

I prefer to watch this type golf with an hour or so tape delay. It is fun to watch the machinations in fast forward. Commercials, waggles, prolonged caddy/tour official discussions, musings of Sir Nick can all be skipped through.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
Sorry, what guys?
Kevin Na has clearly got something going on in his head and you're all saying impose penalties, fines, 'he's a disgrace' etc.
*Sarcasm* That's exactly the kind game I want to be associated with (and want people outside the sport want to see), a game that shuns/ostracises a player who manages to play at the top of the sport with a personal challenge. *Sarcasm*
If you've ever played with a player with a physical disability that means they have to take some time to 'set-up' for their shot you'd appreciate that sometimes getting round the course in 3.5 hours just isn't possible. As long as the player is polite and explains the situation then hey can't do any more.
If you're going to say that a physical disability is different to a mental disability then you belong back in the stone-age.
As for those of you who talk about hypnosis or sending him to a shrink: imagine the outrage if a golfer with tourettes syndrome made it onto your screen... would you tell them the same?
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
It seems to me to be a form of OCD born out of anxiety. A Bach flower remedy or combination might help, I find six drops of Rescue Remedy in my water bottle and sip before every tee shot.
I think most of us, if we're honest, would admit that many shots are played out of fear, "this two-footer has got to go in or..."
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMacDuff
Na isn't really taking much longer than many other players out there. They are wasting time. He is trying his best but is stuck in a mental rut. Get on the guys who take a minute discussing things with their caddie or have to look at putts from every angle three times. Or have routines that are ridiculous. Na only took a few seconds on his putts on 17 and18. Few others would pull the trigger that fast. Just because he has a problem on the tee and they keep emphasizing it on TV you ar making him the poster child for slow play. He is no worse or better than many others except his is an odd mental quirk.

They finished right behind the group I front in the end and took 4:10. How Come the rest took that long and nobody is complaining?
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ Sanders
"Na and playing competitor Zach Johnson were put on the clock on the 10th tee and taken off on the 17th tee. In between, Na got a bad time when hitting his second shot on No. 16. Two bad times in a round call for a one-stroke penalty, though the PGA Tour hands those out like man-hole covers."

One bad time???
Where were the officials?
Probably hiding or crying to Timmy because they were afraid to assess a penalty.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Mental issues, lack of consideration, outright selfishness - it matters not.

Golf just moved yet another day closer to being completely unwatchable and positively irrelevant.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFester
I think it makes for fascinating tv, watching someone that good struggle to pull the trigger.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRub the grundle
Yes, Rub, and pretty soon you'll be able to go to a tournament and watch from as close-up as you like, as you'll be the only one there.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFester
Could be a blessing in disguise, I was at a party last night and non-golfers could not stop talking about him. Maybe, this time, the issue of slow play can not be swept under the rug.
If participating in golf consisted of watching it on TV (or at a tournament) i could understand why this would be perceived as a problem.... last time I checked it was a sport that people played.
'Attacking' Kevin Na is just reinforcing the negative stereotype that golf is a game for a very specific kind of person.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
I think for me the main issue is the nature of those air swings while he's still set up to the ball( seems illegal on a certain level) and the effect this issue has on playing partners. I believe you always owe consideration to your playing partners.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
They teed off at 2:24 and finished at 6:45, so 4 hours and 21 minutes for two people. That is insane, and borderline unwatchable.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy
@Jeff I get what you're saying, he is aware of the problem and it is not part of some ridiculous routine but he WAS definitely slowing things down. But you're right with regards to the others. I thought one of the most classic things I saw was Zach Johnson who was definitely getting perturbed and couldn't bear to watch. On 18 you could see him up ahead to the left with his back turned to the nonsense. But what happens when it's his turn???? HE TAKES ANOTHER 2 MINUTES WITH HIS CADDIE DISCUSSING HIS SHOT. They could of handled all that the whole time Na was struggling. I don't like watching it obviously, but it's almost funny when 2 slowpokes get paired together. Maybe that is what it takes, Johnson realizing 'holy shxx, is this what I look like'. My problem with the whole slow play problem is the guys that are slow and could care less. I thought Na was one of those but I think he is really struggling, mentally. Ben Crane and a lot of these other guys know they are slow and do nothing, no matter what they say. I like Jonathan Byrd, really cool guy, but he can't make a decision. At least Phil pulls the trigger quickly after he and Bones have their detailed discussions. START PENALIZING THESE GUYS!!!
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCookie
@John: I can understand where you are coming from and I agree that Na must be going thru a....errr...."odd" phase in his game. My question is this: Did Kevin Na always display these kind of nerves in his playing career?

I remember seeing him on TV when he was maybe 16 playing in the LA...err...Nissa...errr....AT RIVIERA and he appeared to step into the shot and pull the trigger with no problem. IMO it's entirely his fault if he let the pre-swing demons get to him over the years. Whether this is due to too many sessions with a swing "guru" or psychologist makes NO difference at all since EVERYBODY out there has/is going thru similar things.

As a professional he has an obligation to his fellow playing competitors to "get on with it" and play at a reasonable pace without being distracting to other players.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
If I were watching this, it would drive me crazy. Luckily, Tiger is 10 back so there's no need to burn my retinas today.

Btw - come again, Na? There's what, exactly, 'on the line'? You're already rich and you play golf for a living. This is only the 5th of 25 majors, so there's no pressure to win. Hell, just choke and let the 6 figure parachute guide you safely home at the end of the day. Rinse and repeat.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDsl
Not in anyway condoning slow play, but, take an extremely penal course and throw an incredible pile of dough up for grabs, and what do you think the speed of play is going to be?
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Anything that makes Ben Crane seem like a bullet train defies agreed upon principles of spacetime.

At least it's entertaining and active. It isn't just a guy taking his sweet time. I find it interesting. Mind you, I'm not paired with him going into a huge title on Sunday. This is the Players - the best non-major consolation prize in golf. All penalties would do his make it worse. Put him out there as a single! Hehe.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDG
jjshaka, it isn't illegal because there was no intent to hit the ball.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGoose
Ugh. Must be like living the dream in which you show up a school without having gotten dressed. Just watched the 1:04 segment. 18 waggles/swings by my count and then he stripes it long and straight, while shooting 68 on a very hard golf course. Not attractive, but not nearly as irritating as watching Nomar Garciaparra fondle his batting gloves...
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
@Jimmy - "They teed off at 2:24 and finished at 6:45, so 4 hours and 21 minutes for two people. That is insane, and borderline unwatchable."
Johnson and Na were ten minutes quicker than the Woods pairing. That's the PGA Tour for you and it's not Na's fault. It's pro golf and I agree that it is wrong, but don't blame Na for 20 years of ineptitude from those who run it. The horse bolted a long time ago.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
Good point. I hate baseball with all the fussing of gloves and spitting and the like. No different. It's funny to watch like watching looney tunes.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterA3
Oh, and what Cookie says. That was the only part of the telecast I saw. It was funny watching Zach not watching Kevin on the 18th, and then he takes his own sweet long time figuring out how to fan one short and right with an 8(?)-iron. Yeah, the gouge mark next to his ball was distracting, but hey, these guys are good!

Ditto with metro18. Na and Johnson finished right behind the group in front of them. Slow, yes. But that's policy according to Tim.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
The ost ointing out Zach NOT READY and screwing around with his caddy for 2 minutes after the Na-naw on 18...well- there ya go. I try to get everyone to lay ready golf; to do all their pre turn bs while therior player is playing......but...anyone who thinks that casual golf is not slow as a direct result of watching pro golf are just dumb.

Good luck to Na, who is obviously a tortured soul.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
''post pointing'--- sticking ''p'' rears it's ugly key again.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
How do you know there's no intent?

He's at address, doesn't move or change position, simply goes into his backswing and whiffs...how is anyone supposed to know that's a practice swing? I mean, it's probably a practice swing, but to me it's a risky move.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLadyH
Buy the man a steak....he's not eating enough protein. As for the slow-play....he's doing it on purpose...he deserves an Oscar....when someone like Na can get Ben Crane and Zach Johnson to look in the mirror....uummmm, it's a great day!! Imagine the irony....a slow player bringing consciousness to other slow players, maybe he's the Dali Lama?!

I hope he wins the FedUp Cup....icing on the cake.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen
Did, I just thought you were trying to "speed things up" by eliminating letters!!!!!
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Burke
LOL, you people make me laugh. You guys want to rip on Kevin for being a slow player, when in fact the slowest player on tour is Tiger Woods. Tiger has been warned more than any other player on tour. No one says anything about it, why well because he is Tiger Woods. You get some guy no one has heard of before and all of a sudden he is slow, painful to watch, crazy in the head, and all the other comments I did not mention.

Honestly, I like Kevin Na for many reasons. He faces the same demons that most amateurs face while playing this "Hard Game". He reminds me of myself when I cannot make the decision to, "pull the trigger". No matter what you say, he is a great example of, "us".

One more note, Tiger Woods has been seen many times getting mad at himself, yelling at himself and what you might want to call, "conduct unbecoming of a professional. In conclusion, get off your damn high horses and just enjoy the show.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Medrano
Adrian: Golf is a TARGET sport. If a professional has problems pulling the trigger to the extent he is affecting his playing partners...then it's a BIG problem. If this behavior is allowed to continue without correction, then the playing field is NOT level.


It's just golf boys...make a decision, commit to it, and fire away. No one is curing cancer out there!
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Adrian,

Would you care to provide some supporting documentation for: "Tiger has been warned more than any other player on tour." Just so we don't make the mistake of thinking that you're talking out of your ass.

Thanks.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTed Mitchell
@Ted: Tiger is SLOW....but since he is who he is, he gets a pass due to the fact that a small-sized hockey arena worth of fans follow him on every hole he has played in his entire career. Lots of "extenuating circumstances" to be found in his gallery (see last weeks blatant rules breaking no lost ball without hard evidence to the contrary incident).

Just sayin'
05.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
The pros play at a glacial speed every week and there's rarely more than a murmur.

Why all the pitchforks this week?

Because of Finchem's stupid comments in the lead-up to the event?

Or something to do with Na?
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott W
I don't know where to access them but have seen specific statistics cited in other threads that indicate Tiger is really right on the PGA Tour average in terms of how fast he plays.

Anyone know where to access those statistics? Pretty sure one of the magazines did a detailed study.
05.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk

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