Kevin Na, golf’s most recent poster child for slow play, has been working hard to speed up his pre-shot routine. Apparently not fast enough for PGA Tour officials, who angered the 28-year-old by putting him on the clock during Friday’s second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
“We were in position all day. We were waiting the first few holes. I’m constantly looking where we are in position,” Na told Golf Digest’s Ron Sirak about his group that included Johnny Huh and Aaron Baddeley. “Off the sixth tee we were in perfect position, off the seventh tee we were doing fine, we were in perfect position. We struggled a little bit on eighth, the par-3, as a group because we had long shots and long putts coming in and we stand on nine and we get off the tee and they are telling us we are on the clock. I get on nine green and I look down 10 fairway and they are on the green. We have an 11-minute interval and we are in position. After I putted on the hole I called them over and said, ‘Look, we’re in position, we shouldn’t be on the clock.’ That’s all.”
Na responded, “No comment, no comment,” when Sirak asked if he believed officials “singled out” the notoriously poky player who said Thursday that he had worked steadfastly since The Players Championship — when his twitches and tics became legend — on picking up his pace of play. During the TPC Sawgrass competition Na had gone out of his way to take responsibility for his snail-like approach but he would have none of it on Friday.
“I was pretty upset. I was upset,” he said about the course cops’ scrutiny. “Bogeyed nine. I didn’t even have time to take a look at — my second shot was in a divot in the rough — and I actually could have gone under the tree and gone for it but I had no time to look at the options. So I just pitched out and made bogey.
“I probably hit it in 10 seconds on 10. The flag was even down the 10th, the flag fell over and I hit it,” he continued. “Aaron agreed with me. We were in position. We shouldn’t be on the clock. We did have a bad hole. We might have been a couple minutes behind. All they have to do is say, ‘Hey bud, you were doing fine and it looks like you had one bad hole, we’ll give you a hole to catch up, make sure you don’t lose that group in front of you.’
“There is plenty of that out here on tour but it just wasn’t the case today and I was a little upset,” an obviously angry Na added. “Walking off 10, Aaron and I were talking and Aaron totally agreed with what I had to say. None of us were slow. But some times there are windy conditions and you can have bad holes but not be out of position where we should have been on the clock.”
Na, by the way, posted a second-round 1-over 71 to go with Thursday’s even-par and was 12 shots back of leader Jason Dufner — two strokes clear of the 3-over projected cut line.
The New England contingent did not fare so well. If the cut line does not change, University of Hartford grad Jerry Kelly, at 2-over will play this weekend. Connecticut native J.J. Henry, who had a T3 finish at last week’s Byron Nelson Championship, carded a 4-over, and James Driscoll was likely on his way home to Boston after finishing his week at 6-over.
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminerWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?