Kevin Na wins Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in playoff thriller

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Kevin Na wins Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in playoff thriller

PGA Tour

Kevin Na wins Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in playoff thriller

By

LAS VEGAS – It was fitting that Kevin Na made a knee-knocking putt Sunday to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

In setting a putting record on the TPC Summerlin greens this week, Na made a 4-footer on the second playoff hole to topple Patrick Cantlay to win his hometown event for the second time. After being in control of the tournament most of the week, Na had to rally late after making a triple-bogey 7 on the 10th hole to secure his fourth PGA Tour title.

“As good as I was playing, there was no doubt I was going to win. All of a sudden I felt like the underdog,” Na said of the 10th hole, where he needed five shots from 50 yards to make triple as his chipping went haywire. “It was hard to shake off, but I made some great putts coming in.

“I’ve been in this situation before where I lost the lead and I failed many times. I’ve lost three playoffs. This is my first playoff win. I kept telling myself this is the playoff I’m going to win. It felt great to win.”

SHRINERS: Leaderboard | Photos | PGA Tour schedule, results

Na shared a tearful, emotional embrace with his wife, Julianne, and daughter, Sophia, on the 18th green. And then he shared a huge hug with his father, Yong, who saw his son win on the PGA Tour for the first time.

“My father is the one who got me into the game of golf,” Na said.

He’s been a pretty good putter ever since. But this week was special. With a scorching putter in hand, Na was on a heater that everyone hopes to get on in this gambling mecca, those rare moments where Ace-Jack keeps being dealt your way on the blackjack table and your slot machine erupts with a bells-and-whistles jackpot.

Through 63 holes, Na couldn’t do anything wrong and kept making putt after putt to take a 4-shot lead into the final nine holes. Then came the triple on the 10th. After rebounding with three birdies in five holes, Na knocked his second shot on the par-5 16th – the easiest hole on the course – into the water and made bogey to relinquish his lead. Again, fittingly, Na tied things up when he canned a 23-footer for par on the 17th while Cantlay made bogey.

“I’m a fighter. I never gave up,” Na said. “I knew that I could make that putt and stay in it. I was zoned in and looking at nothing but making it.”

Still, when the outcome was out of his hands a few minutes later, Na watched as Cantlay’s attempt to win on the 72nd hole from 24 feet stayed on the lip.

Both made birdies on the first playoff hole – Na from 9 feet, Cantlay from 10 feet. On the second extra hole, Cantlay three-putted from 43 feet, while Na ran his 24-footer four feet by but made the comebacker for the victory.

The two finished regulation at 23 under, with Na firing a 70 to go with his previous rounds of 68-62-61 and Cantlay a 68 to go with his rounds of 66-64-63.

Pat Perez played some of his best golf in months and finished in third at 21 under with a closing 68. Bryson DeChambeau provided a strong title defense, closing with a 63 to finish at 20 under with Adam Hadwin and Brian Stuard.

Na, who made 202 feet of putts in his second-round 62 and 117 feet of putts in his third-round 61, set the record for most feet of putts made in a 72-hole tournament since the PGA Tour started tracking statistics with ShotLink in 2003. He finished his 72nd hole with 558 feet, 11 inches of putts. That bested the record set by Ben Martin, who made 551 feet, 2 inches of putts in the 2015 Dean and DeLuca Invitational.

Na’s 191 total also set the 54-hole tournament scoring record.

And he’s won for the third consecutive season. He won his first PGA Tour title in this event in 2011, won the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in the 2017-18 season and the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial last season.

Cantlay was looking to win his second Shriners. He won in his tournament debut two years ago and finished second last year. He’ll think about the putt on the 72nd hole that stayed on the lip and the 6-footer he missed on the second playoff hole for a long time.

“I played really well. I hit a lot of putts that I thought were going to go in today and didn’t. All in all, playing really well,” he said. “Obviously it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. That’s two years in a row here. I played well all week. I’ll take that momentum the rest of the year.”

Na will have plenty of momentum as he heads a week from now to Asia for three events. It will give him more opportunities to impress Tiger Woods, the U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup. Woods has four discretionary picks to make to fill out his roster and Na’s put himself in the mix.

“I’m hoping he texts me. If not, I’m going to be texting him,” Na said. “I’ve got two wins in this calendar year, so hopefully he’s keeping an eye on me. I could make some putts. I’m a good match play player. I keep trying to sell myself.

“Hopefully he considers me.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home