Kevin Na quickens pace at Colonial
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The wiggles, waggles and waves at the golf ball disappeared from Kevin Na's pre-shot routine Thursday.
That was a major victory for Na, who admitted that all he thought about in the first round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial was eliminating the superfluous movements that made golf fans everywhere -- not to mention his playing partners -- shudder as he contended for The Players Championship two weeks ago.
That was the only thought I had. It wasn't about, 'Oh I need to go work or I need to get rest.' It was, 'I need to change this and this is all I'm going to do and all I'm going to think about and I'm going to get it done.'” -- Kevin Na on speeding up play
Na shot even-par 70 on Thursday, his first competitive round since that Sunday at Sawgrass. And considering he was 2 over after five holes here, Na was pleased he managed to get those two strokes back by the time his round finished.
His plodding play at The Players made pace of play a hot topic in the golf world. As soon as that tournament ended, Na vowed to do something about it.
"That was the only thought I had," Na said Thursday. "It wasn't about, 'Oh I need to go work or I need to get rest.' It was, 'I need to change this and this is all I'm going to do and all I'm going to think about and I'm going to get it done.' I'm actually surprised at how quickly I'm doing this."
Na's new routine has no waggles and takes little time. He takes one practice swing when he's at the ball, then puts the club behind the ball, looks at the target, sets his feet, and when he feels comfortable -- and it didn't take him long to feel comfortable Thursday -- he takes the club back and hits the ball.
Only one time did Na feel like he struggled with the routine. That was his second shot on the par-4 No. 5, the end of Colonial's famous Horseshoe -- the toughest part of the course. Na stepped back from the shot and had trouble getting comfortable. Then he pulled the shot into a greenside bunker but still saved par.
Na looked back at the group behind him a few times, making sure he was maintaining his pace. But that wasn't a problem Thursday.
"I'm constantly looking because the arrow always points toward me," Na said. "I'm trying to pay attention. I think that did cost me a shot coming down the stretch, but I did good. I did very good."
Na said he probably picked the most difficult round he could have to change his routine, thanks to the tight fairways, small greens and wind at Colonial.
"Every shot is hard," Na said. "I'm constantly thinking about it. I'm not even thinking about my golf swing. That's kind of hurting me a little bit because I always have a swing thought, but right now, I have no swing thought. I don't have time to have a swing thought. I've just got to think about my pre-shot routine, get ready and go."
Na even admitted that a few times at the top of his backswing he thought: "I can't believe I'm already here."
Na stuck with his new routine Thursday and said his playing partners were impressed. John Huh, who has played with Na several times this season, told him he thought he was actually quicker than he needed to be.
"I said, 'John, I'm just one of those guys that if I'm going to fix it, I'm going to do it right now,' " Na said. "I'm not going to go little by little. I'm going to change the whole thing."
Na said there's no turning back now.
"I'm a fighter," he said. "I'm telling you, I'm a fighter."