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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Na captures fifth PGA Tour title at Sony Open

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Kevin Na birdied his final hole in a six-under par round of 65 to capture his fifth PGA Tour title at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The American, notorious for picking his ball out of the cup almost before it gets there, has become a real force on Tour and joins Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau having won in each of his last four seasons. Na’s fourth win in 55 starts has seen him jump to 23rd in the world golf rankings and it’s no surprise he’s chasing more visits to the winner’s enclosure before the year is out.

“It feels great,” Na said, who edged out Chris Kirk and Joaquin Niemann by a single stroke at 21-under par in Honolulu. “It’s great to get off to a good start this year and get back in Maui (Tournament of Champions next year). It’s just all positives. But I’d like to win another one before the season’s over.

“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.

“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.”

Yet it could’ve been so different for the smiling Na. On Wednesday, a shooting pain in his rib signalled trouble, an apparent Hawaiian curse with Na having remarkably withdrawn from the last two renewals with neck and finger injuries despite getting to the venue. This time the 37-year old had his traveling trainer on hand to ensure he muscled through.

“On Wednesday morning warming up in the Pro-Am and 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 added. “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, might have been a different story.”

Overnight leader Branden Steele was unable to deliver his best in the final round, a two-under 69 seeing him drop to a share of fourth at 19-under alongside Australian Mark Leishman and Webb Simpson. Patton Kizzire, Billy Horschel, Collin Morikawa and Daniel Berger rounded out the top-10 in a share of seventh spot at minus-18.

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