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By : BGA Proshop
Kevin Na had to birdie four of his last 6 holes, which included 3 straight, to win the Sony Open by one shot over Joaquin Niemann and Chris Kirk.
The victory looked unlikely as Na three-putted for bogey on the 12th hole and there was no room for mistakes.
He answered with birdie putts of 15, 10 and 6 feet, and the winning shot was out of the right rough on the par-5 closing hole at Waialae and ran just over the back of the green. He chipped to tap-in range for his last birdie.
Na who almost pulled out of the tournament on Wednesday pulled his rib while warming up for the pro-am but luckily had his trainer on staff and managed to get him right before the start of the tournament.
“On Wednesday morning, warming up in the pro-am, I hit one hard and I pulled my rib, and I didn't know what to expect. ... I was like here we go again,” Na revealed. “My trainer that I just added to the team, Cornel Driessen, he helped me out a lot. We worked on it, loosened it, and the next day I woke up, it felt great and felt like nothing happened. Had he not been here, I don't know, it might have been a different story."
“It feels great. It's great to get off to a good start this year and get back in Maui (next year). It's just all positives. But I'd like to win another one before the season's over,” Na said. “I used to be a really consistent player, a lot of top 10s, a lot of made cuts. Winning was still important then but winning felt a little bit distant to me. I knew I could do it; I've done it before … but I went so many years without winning that I kind of forgot that feeling, and when I validated it at Greenbrier, it made me hungry for more.
“(So) I think experience is the reason why I've been winning. Experience and confidence. When you do it again, it seems like the next one comes easier. All this time waiting is paying off right now.”
“I was playing maybe a little bit more aggressive coming down the stretch, not worrying so much about second or third. Every year, I hope to win, and I expect to win, on the right golf courses,” Na added. “Sometimes that adds a little bit more pressure but it's just a mind-set that when you go in, hey, look, if things go well and I play well, I'm going to have a chance.
“The goals now are to be top-20 in the world before the year is over, contend in a major, and obviously make it to TOUR Championship and The Ryder Cup.”