Na goes against doctor's orders to fire 2-under 70
Friday, April 12, 2013
PHOTOS: The Masters (Friday)
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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Great success has not been part of Kevin Na’s three trips to the Masters. Three appearances, two missed cuts, but a little light at the end of the tunnel with a T-12 last year drove Na back to Augusta National with hopes of more.
The fact that he is here is against the best advise of his doctor.
Na's doctor believes the 13-year professional should be home working with his physical therapist and not trying to hit shots off of a hanging lie into a tucked pin.
Na, 29, has a lumbar bulging disk between the lumbar vertebra L4 and L5, which causes pain in the back and eventually running both down both legs.
It became so painful at the Puerto Rico Open, Na had to withdraw after five holes.
“It was a par‑5 on the front, right off the start, second hole or something. I hit one hard off the tee, and I felt it pop, and I'm like, 'Boy, it's not going to be good,' ” Na said. “I played a few more holes and I was going to do more damage than good.”
At the oust of the year, Na's doctor suggested he play a couple of months and see how it goes. Na played through pain and continued to force it until he could not stand it anymore on the fifth hole at Puerto Rico.
The discussion between doctor and patient was a bit stressed, as Na was willing to take off the next four weeks, but was unwilling to miss the Masters.
“You can't play the Masters,” Na said recalling the doctor advice. “If you hurt it again, you're only going backward. But I said, 'I'm going to do whatever it takes to play the Masters.' ”
The compromise was for Na then to take a sizable break off after the Masters which Na agreed to and will let it fully heal, which may likely be most of the remainder of the 2013 season.
“It got a little better, but I started hitting balls, and some days I come out here and it feels OK, and some days it's like, 'Oh, God, I can't hit more than 20 balls,' ” Na said. “But then the magical thing about this place, you get the adrenaline pumping, you get the crowd out here, and it helps you get through the round. But at the end of the day, it's hard.”
As Na spoke about his opening 2-under 70 -- his best opening round of the Masters -- the adrenaline was subsiding and he knew his leg would soon be affected.
“You know what the sad thing is, this might affect me the rest of my career,” Na said. “But I'm going to look at one day at a time.”
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