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October 2, 2019

Kevin Na

Las Vegas, Nevada

THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome in the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children champion, Kevin Na. Kevin, thank you for taking the time to come chat with us.

KEVIN NA: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Your return here to this event, talk a little bit about how important this event is to you.

KEVIN NA: It's a very important event. It's my hometown. I have great memories here, my first win that helped me breakthrough, and I have a lot of great memories.

I like it because my friends and family get to come out and watch. Best of all, I get to sleep in my own bed.

THE MODERATOR: Yeah, and you already have a top 20 finish, T14 at the Greenbrier. How is your game feeling?

KEVIN NA: I know. It's weird. It's a new season. It's in the middle of the year. My game feels okay. I had a good week defending at Greenbrier. I didn't play that bad last week. I know I came a little short of making the cut, but game felt decent.

I'm looking forward to this week, especially this Thursday and Friday. We got a great pairing with Phil and Tony Finau. They're going to be hitting some bombs, and I'll be throwing some grenades out there, so...

THE MODERATOR: And you had a pretty cool experience with one of our patient ambassadors, Alec. Talk about that experience and what that meant to you.

KEVIN NA: Yeah, it was great. Alex was a great guy. He was very fun. Very positive energy I felt from him. It was cool to meet him and that his passion and dream was to be a sports announcer. Hopefully one day I get to see and listen to him on TV.


Q. Couple. Some people have said it's a double-edged sword. Yes, you get to sleep in your own bed, but you also have a hundred friends trying to get tickets.
KEVIN NA: I don't have that many friends so I'm okay there. No, you know what? A lot of my friends kind of know and don't ask. So I already -- all my close friends I went and put all their tickets at will call and I'll text, I got two for you, two for you, two for you, every one of them, and I already put it at will call for them.

The tournament is great about giving me tickets because they know I'm a local here. They're very helpful.

Q. I know you joked about it, but is there a different sense when you play with a couple guys that can hit bombs as opposed to not playing with guys that hit it...
KEVIN NA: I mean, it's not so much bombs. I think obviously Phil being one of the greatest players currently playing the game and maybe ever, I always enjoy playing with him. Tony Finau is a great guy. Really enjoy playing with him. He is a great player. He is due for many wins.

I enjoy playing with guys that are highly ranked players. They're going to play good golf, and you want the group to play well Thursday, Friday so you see a lot of good shots and kind of pull each other; then that way you can go head-to-head late in the weekend.

Q. This is a course you're familiar with. You've played several it times.
KEVIN NA: Uh-huh.

Q. The tournament this year is early October; last year it was early November. A little different weather, different temperatures. Do you expect it to play any differently as a result, or pretty much the same as always?
KEVIN NA: I feel like the forecast is saying light winds, which is good. It can be very windy out here in the fall and makes the golf course really difficult. Course is in fantastic shape. Feel like the greens are a little bit firmer than usual, so that's going to help to keep the scores a little bit higher.

But I think because of low winds, because we're expecting low winds, I think the scores are going to be somewhat low.

Q. Considering you're local, how often are you over here, be it practicing or playing?
KEVIN NA: Not too often, because I play in Southern Highlands and I play out of Southern Highlands Golf Club. It's not too often I do come out here. I was out here because Southern Highlands was close and I played some money games with some of the guys. I actually played with Morikawa, John Oda, and one of the Web.com players, Alex Kane. We had a good money match.

Went on a stretch. We were getting killed and I went on a stretch. Eight birdies and an eagle. No, no, I'm sorry. Six birdies and an eagle on a stretch of like eight holes or something like that.

We were 2-up and Morikawa birdied 17; 18 John Oda made a 15-footer downhill to break even. I was not happy. (Laughter.)

Q. You made a point last year to say there are only so many courses in the tour rotation that suit your game. Is this one of them?
KEVIN NA: Well, I think I proved that in 2011, right? Yes, this is a great golf course for me. I think you have to really drive the ball well and keep it in the fairway so you can control the spin. I know the roughs are not deep, but because of these greens and some of the hole locations, you have to hit the fairway to be able to spin the ball.

You don't have to bomb it out here. Anybody can win out here. You definitely have to make some putts.

Q. Talked about the mentorship and the thing you're doing with the young Korean players. Can I ask you about one particular, Sungjae Im. What have you seen in his game and swing, and the fact that he played...
KEVIN NA: He's an Energizer bunny. That guy plays every week and it's impressive. Not only in his game but his stamina. For him to play every week and play that well, because a lot guys will get burnt out playing that many weeks.

What he's done in his rookie year -- I know he didn't win -- and including that playoff loss in, in what, a little over 12 months how he's played is very impressive. He's only 21 years old. I can see him maybe being the next best Korean player after K.J.

Q. Can you preach that there needs to be some patience sometimes, too?
KEVIN NA: Yes, yes. It was probably heartbreaking for him to lose in a playoff couple weeks ago, but he needs to stay patient. The only concern, only advice or concern that I have for him, is hopefully doesn't get burned out playing too much. He needs to pace himself. Just be patient. I think the way he's playing he's eventually going to win. So stay positive. Keep working. At the same time, stay injury-free.

Q. (No microphone.)
KEVIN NA: Seven.

Q. (No microphone.)
KEVIN NA: I actually finished top 20, but it was my rookie year. I was trying to keep my card. Nowadays I have trouble playing two weeks in a row. I feel old. I say I'm an old 36 year old because I played so much golf in my career.

It is my 17th season on tour, so I'm not that old. Come on. I'm okay. I'm okay.

Q. I bring this up because you did post about it, the situation with Bio Kim and his three-year suspension. What do you know about that and what's your reaction?
KEVIN NA: First of all, I don't know where to start. I know Bio very well. When he played on the PGA TOUR I was very good friends with him. Played a lot of practice rounds together. I don't want to say I helped him, but felt like I was trying to be a good kind of big brother to him.

We developed a really good relationship. What he did was wrong. Kind of surprised me. He's not that kind of person. I talked to him on the phone yesterday. We exchanged some texts. From what I've gathered, I guess it wasn't the first time that happened that day. He was fed up with it.

Yes, what he did was wrong. Should he be fined? Yes. Three years is ridiculous. I talked to - I won't say who - but I talked to someone from the TOUR about the situation and what the TOUR would've done if a case like this happened.

When you come from a guy -- so the person up on the TOUR said, Was there physical contact with the spectator? Commentator. I said, No. Does this guy have a history of behavior issues? No. Then it seems pretty extreme to me.

You're taking a man's job for three years. Yes, he was unprofessional and there should be consequences for it, but not take a man's job away for three years. At the same time, the spectator was disrespecting the game and the player at the same time.

Yes, it happened, but three years is -- I mean, for what? I mean, at the same time, I also think he should get an opportunity to make things right. Apologize, whether it's to the fan, to that individual fan, the golf world, Korean media, but I hope -- I mean, I'm trying everything I can to help him.

I've made some comments on social media that I think it's ridiculous. I called some people high up in the Korean society to help him. Talked to him. Connected him with the PGA TOUR so he can -- so this doesn't go -- affect him other places in the world where he can play maybe the Korn Ferry Tour or China Tour, Latin American Tour, wherever that might be.

So, look, I know this is an individual sport, but when a player, a fellow golfer is being singled out I want to say, I think we need to get together and help him.

Yes, what he did was 100% wrong. Going back to three year suspension is not the what he deserves.

THE MODERATOR: Just to follow, up you mention you talked to him. What were his comments to you?

KEVIN NA: He's depressed. I mean, I can hear it in his voice. I texted him because I said, Call me ASAP. The TOUR wants to talk to you. Called me in the morning as soon as he woke up because of the time change and he sounded just torn.

His wife is pregnant. I know his wife is pregnant. I said, you know what? I know you're going through a rough time. Be good to your wife. I am sure it's hard for her. Like I said, I'm trying everything I can. Not that I can do much.

I am sure the Korean TOUR players are getting together and getting their voice out. All the players around the world should get a voice out and say this is ridiculous. You can't take a man's job away for three years for one incident. Everybody makes mistakes.

Like I said, if this was fifth or sixth offense I get it. But when you have no offense and have had good behavior, you're a good guy, people like him, you can't do that to a person.

I guess I can keep going on. I'll just leave it at that.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for your time and good luck this week.

KEVIN NA: Thank you.

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