Kevin Na rides hot putter to lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Kevin Na rides hot putter to lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

PGA Tour

Kevin Na rides hot putter to lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

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LAS VEGAS – Kevin Na might want to put his putter in a bank vault tonight. Or sleep with it. Or hire a security guard to watch over it.

Do anything to make sure nothing happens to the Toulon Madison putter with an LA Golf TP graphite shaft that’s been piping hot in the desert this week.

A day after making 202 feet of putts en route to firing a 9-under-par 62, the Las Vegas resident made 177 feet of putts Saturday on his way to a 61 and the outright lead through 54 holes of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

With rounds of 68-62-61, Na sits at 22 under and two shots clear of Patrick Cantlay, who won this tournament in 2017 and finished second in 2018.

“I just kept riding that momentum with the hot putter and it was a great day,” said Na, whose 191 total set the 54-hole tournament scoring record. “All I’m trying to do is hit my line and just focus on that, and not be so caught up in what it does and just trying to hit a good putt.”

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Na, ranked No. 40 in the world, started using the putter at the Masters earlier this year. On Saturday, he made birdie putts from 7, 17, 9, 20, 2, 30, 16, 9, 14 and 12 feet and missed another birdie chance from 4 feet on the 16th.

But his most important putt, he said, was the 22-footer he made for par on the fifth.

Na said he feels comfortable standing over every putt and gave credit to the putter head, the putter shaft and his caddie, Kenny Harms, for reading the greens so well.

Kevin Na reacts after a birdie putt on the 17th green during the third round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Na should take a bow, too, for he’s the one executing.

“I’m hitting a lot of good putts that are doing what it’s supposed to and going in,” Na said. “Kenny and I are agreeing on things out there, which is good. And look, you need some luck to have some putts lip in here and there, and I’ve been getting a little bit of that.”

Since 2003 when the Tour started tracking statistics with ShotLink, Ben Martin holds the record for most feet of putts made in a 72-hole tournament. At Colonial in the 2015 Dean and DeLuca Invitational, he made 551 feet, 2 inches of putts.

That record is definitely in play for Na, who has made 445 feet of putts.

But he’s more interested in getting the win. He is looking to win for the third consecutive season. He won his first PGA Tour title in this event in 2011 and won the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in the 2017-18 season and the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial last season.

“I still got to keep the pedal to the metal,” Na said. “A lot of low scores out here. Anybody can shoot 8- or 9-under. I believe there is going to be a little bit more wind tomorrow, so if that’s the case maybe you won’t see 9-, 10-unders.

“I just got to go out there, one shot at a time, and post a good number.”

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