PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | In a
star-crossed and wind-blown Players
Championship that had more engaging
plot twists than an episode of Downton
Abbey, the enduring image will be that of
Kevin Na trying to pull the trigger.
This, despite a stirring Sunday performance from emerging American stalwart
More’s the pity.
If you had a nickel for every amateur
psychiatrist who showed up on Twitter
with an opinion on Na’s malady, you could
have paid down the national debt and had
enough left over to write the $1.71 million
winner’s check to Kuchar.
Kevin Na waggling. Kevin Na twitching,
fidgeting and double-clutching. Kevin Na
shadow boxing with his golf ball. Kevin Na
backing off. Kevin Na barking at himself in
frustration. Kevin Na trying to fight his way
through swing changes, apologizing over
Kevin Na prompting Charles Barkley to
declare, “Welcome to my world.”
And 54-hole leader Kevin Na helplessly
and, yes, unfairly distracting playing com-
petitor Zach Johnson on Saturday.
“There’s a lot going on in my head,” Na
said with a smile Saturday night.
The author John Updike once wrote,
“The golf swing is like a suitcase into which
we are trying to pack too many items.”
Actually, Na’s swing is pretty sound. It’s
the excess pre-shot baggage that gets him in
trouble. You wanted to feel sorry for him. But
you needed to feel more sorry for the other
guy in his pairing. Imagine the distraction.
MAY 14, 2012
in Jack Nicklaus’ rearview mirror are not
as close as they once appeared.
“Guys, I’ve done this before,” Woods
said of his latest swing overhaul. “I’ve
been through this.”
Well, actually, no, Woods hasn’t. He
has never attempted to deconstruct and
reconstruct his golf swing at the age of
36, scarred by a long history of injuries
and surgeries and a nasty and public
w Rory McIlroy missing the cut by a bundle.
Why is it that the No. 1 player in the
world plays the Stadium Course at TPC
Sawgrass like it was Kryptonite National? In three tries at The Players, McIlroy
has yet to make the cut.
All of this was prologue for the madhouse at the first tee Sunday when the
starter introduced Na. Thankfully, Kev-insanity quickly disappeared when he
needed only two waggles before striking
his first drive.
The twitches returned, mostly with his
putter, and when Na bogeyed four of the
last six holes on his front nine he dropped,
like a moon rock, from contention.
By then the damage to the competitive drama of The Players had been done.
His neuroses had hijacked the Saturday
broadcasts and dispatches and spilled
over into Sunday morning when the head
shrinking continued unabated.
Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Uncle Albert isn’t
around anymore to define Na’s problems. If
he were, here might be the paraphraseology:
Kev-Insanity: Doing the same thing over
and over again and having no idea who is
going to win the pre-shot war in your brain
between the golf gods and the golf demons.
“I’m trying to get comfortable with my
waggles,” Na said, trying to explain the
unexplainable. “It’s usually a little waggle,
a half-waggle, little waggle, half-waggle
and boom, supposed to pull the trig-
ger. But if it doesn’t work, I’ve got to go
in pairs. So, it’ll go four, and if it doesn’t
work, it’ll go six, and after that … .”
After that, what?
“I don’t know,” Na said. “I mean, hon-
estly, if I knew I guess I wouldn’t be having
And we would have been able to pay
more attention to the guy who actually
won this thing.
At the bitter end a group of fans began
heckling Na. “To be honest,” he said. “I
deserved it.” l