Kevin Na legitimately joins the conversation for being a Presidents Cup pick

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Kevin Na legitimately joins the conversation for being a Presidents Cup pick

2019 Presidents Cup

Kevin Na legitimately joins the conversation for being a Presidents Cup pick

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Why not Na?

Shortly after Kevin Na won Sunday’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a few folks on social media wondered if he had a case to make the U.S. Presidents Cup team as one of four captain’s picks at Tiger Woods’ disposal.

It didn’t go well. A quick scan of numerous comment sections showed scores of respondents were repulsed by the query or laughed off the suggestion.

Na’s past of struggling to overcome the most dreaded ailment in golf – the yips – and his notoriety as the poster child for slow play were two leading factors for the replies. The depth of talent Woods will choose from stood out. Na’s lack of experience playing for national teams was another condemnation.

Na, na, na, na, hey, hey-ey, goodbye was the chorus.

All in all, a bit harsh. This isn’t to say Na should be one of the four discretionary selections Woods will make Nov. 4. This is to say he has to be in Tiger’s head.

SHRINERS: What each player earned | What’s in Na’s bag

After winning just once in his first 369 starts – he won in Las Vegas in 2011 – Na has won three of his last 30 starts on the PGA Tour. He’s ranked No. 24 in the world, ahead of many of the names being considered.

And only three players have won multiple titles on the PGA Tour this calendar year – world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and, wait for it, Na.

Yes, as his critics will point out, the wins by Koepka and McIlroy were cream of the crop – Koepka a major and a WGC title, McIlroy won the Players, RBC Canadian Open and the season-ending Tour Championship. Na, on the other and, was victorious at Colonial in the Charles Schwab Challenge and at defenseless TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Sunday.

But winning is winning and winning twice in less than five months means something. In Las Vegas, he held off Patrick Cantlay, one of the eight players on the U.S. team who qualified in the points race, in a playoff.

At Colonial, Na held off Tony Finau, who finished ninth in the Presidents Cup standings.

Now consider how Na won the Shriners. For 63 holes, he was on a heater one can only dream about in the gambling mecca, building a four-shot lead behind a can’t-miss, record-setting performance from his putter.

Then his resiliency – remember, he overcame yips – and fighting spirit emerged after a disastrous triple-bogey 7 on the 10th changed the complexion of the tourney. Na regrouped and rebounded behind his putter and eventually won on the second playoff hole.

In doing so, he shot 23 under in regulation and added another birdie on the first playoff hole. He finished with 558 feet, 11 inches of putts in regulation. That bested the record set by Ben Martin, who made 551 feet, 2 inches of putts in the 2015 Dean and DeLuca Invitational.

How can Na’s case for a pick be dismissed? He has to be in the conversation to play against the Internationals in Australia in December.

Finau, reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Waste Management Phoenix Open winner Rickie Fowler, 2018 Masters champion and Northern Trust winner Patrick Reed have strong cases, too.

As does Tiger himself. And Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth. Toss in Chez Reavie, WGC Match Play champion Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III.

Any would be worthy of joining the red, white and blue that already features Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Koepka and Cantlay.

Na would be worthy, too.

After receiving the hardware in Las Vegas, Na, who will be playing in Korea, Japan and China after taking this week off, said he was hoping to receive a text from Woods. He’d tell the captain that he can make some putts. That’s he’s a good player in match play.

“All I can do is keep giving him reasons to pick me,” Na said.

He certainly did at TPC Summerlin. And Colonial.

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