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March 15, 2014

Kevin Na


DOUG MILNE:  Alright.  Kevin Na, 3-under 68 today in Round 3 of the Valspar Championship.  Thanks for joining us for a few minutes.
Just some comments on the round.
KEVIN NA:  Thought I played very well today.  Front-9 felt like I hit it pretty great.  Didn't hit too many bad shots.  Back-9 felt like I had a few bad swings out there but left me -- luckily my short game was right there to keep me in it.
DOUG MILNE:  Jump in with some questions.

Q.  Surprised to be only one back?
KEVIN NA:  You know, it's playing tough out there.  You know, did I think 7-under would be right somewhere around going into Sunday?  Yes.  You know, after the way that Robert played, you know, he kind of lost a couple coming in but he played great, too.  No, actually I'm really not.

Q.  I was just thinking being four back with 6 holes to go in the round.
KEVIN NA:  Well, those last four holes are no gimme.  You par those last four holes you probably beat the field.

Q.  15 is apparently a gimme.
KEVIN NA:  No.  No.  Didn't feel like I made that bad of a golf swing.  I felt the wind was coming off the right and -- you know, my ball draws and kind of went for that pin.  Never really turned over, and missed the green on the right.  I had a tough little chip but I was able to hole it.

Q.  What club and what were you thinking?  What was the plan?
KEVIN NA:  Can't remember if I had 6-iron or 7-iron.  It was one or the other.  I think I had 6-iron.  Left it out to the right and the chip shot, the ball was sitting down, the rough was pretty deep over there.  Actually opened the face and got under it perfect.  Came out nice with some spin and found the hole.

Q.  Did being on the clock throw you off at all?
KEVIN NA:  It did.  I mean obviously you feel like you're rushed and with the wind going out there bouncing around in the trees and as tough as it's playing, you don't basically have that option to second rethink the shot.  So, whatever you go with, your first thought, you have to go with it and that's what's tough.
I mean it felt like we were a little rushed out there.  Overall, after 18 holes, they said we played in 3 hours and 54 minutes.  That's not to shabby on this golf course.

Q.  Kevin, did you get a bad time on 13 kind of --
KEVIN NA:  Yeah.  Yeah.  It was a tough shot.  Obviously I was first to hit.  Over water, wind coming -- tough to judge the wind and corner pin is obviously brutal and probably just took some extra time because it was probably a hard golf shot.
Like I said, sometimes with the winds out here you got to take a little extra time and to think -- go through all the numbers one more time.
Unfortunately, I was past the time it happens.  I know how to play.  I don't know what people were saying but I don't feel like I should be criticized for my play today because I'm the first one to admit if I play slow but I really didn't feel like I played slow today.
Group in front of us had a lost ball on 3.  We waited on the tee forever because he had to drive back, go back.  That sets us back at least five minutes.  Then we had a ruling on the next hole, two holes later.  We were basically ten minutes behind.
Yeah, we are out of position but was that really our fault?  No.  But you're on the clock which it happens all the time.  You have a ruling, group in front of us is playing slow, they take off or have a ruling.  Whatever it is.  They have a lost ball.
So from then on we're ten minutes, probably ten minutes behind.  We played at our pace which was just fine.  But because we got behind in those two situations it makes us look bad.  But Robert is definitely not a slow player.  I definitely feel like I didn't play slow today.

Q.  Robert, also kind of suggested that because Pat was having a bad round he was not taking anytime at all.
KEVIN NA:  I don't know what he shot.

Q.  Did that put you in a bad position because the gap grew?
KEVIN NA:  I mean you still have -- we got to time par what it is, what we have to be on certain holes.  And I understand we were behind because of that two situations but, yeah, it could make us even look worse.

Q.  When you're on the clock for a chunk of the back-9 and you get a bad time, is there any concern about another one?  You know what I'm saying?
KEVIN NA:  Of course.  Of course there is.  The next one is a heavy penalty.

Q.  One shot.
KEVIN NA:  Yeah, it is.  You obviously have to keep that in mind.  I mean I got over the putt on 17.  You know, it was a very makeable putt.  I hit a great shot in there.  I thought we were off the clock by then because I looked on 18, kind of right there.
Ken and I had a line and Ken -- we weren't finalizing the putt.  About to back off.  Kenny goes, "You better go" (laughter).  I kind of peaked out in the fairway and there's Gary on the cart with a little clock.  "Okay.  We got to go."
But even on 18 fairway, like I kind of had a flyer lie and I looked over at Ken, "We better go."  I go, "Nope."  He goes, "We're on time."
I still hit it pretty quickly.  Even with Robert, I had a talk with Robert during the round and after the round.  I said, "Robert", I said, "You know I'm the first one to admit that if I'm playing slow."  He goes, "What do you think?"  "I know you're not slow."
He goes, "I felt we got behind those two things early in the beginning and never really picked up.  Kind of played it at the right pace."  He goes, "Kev, I'll tell you if you're playing slow."
It was very nice of him to say some encouraging words saying you're doing a good job.  I really appreciated that he said that.

Q.  How much Kevin, how much better are you now than I think a lot of people remember The Players Championship?
KEVIN NA:  A ton.  It's not fair for me because I already have that stamp on me.  But, you know, also said this:  At The Players it wasn't fair for me because it wasn't that I was playing slow, I couldn't take the club back and not too many people know that are watching TV what I went through.
I mean in playing these pressure and what we play for at the top of the level and the issue I had to go through and I was basically on national television for two days not being able to take the club back -- maybe four days -- because I got off the gate pretty quick there.
It just put a stamp on me.  It's not fair.  I've had a lot of guys come up to me and say, "You know, you really changed."  Even Louie Oosthuizen said to me, him and his caddy looked at me, "Kevin, you're not slow."  I said, "Well, thank you."  But doesn't mean the viewer is going to change what they think about me.

Q.  Kevin, can you pinpoint when you feel like you got over the swing episode or whatever you want to call it?
KEVIN NA:  Honestly, I still have like five percent of it.  I'll did a couple a round, swing over the top of it.  I do it on the range.  Who knows.  Might still be there the rest of my life.  I hope not.  I've managed to deal with it and find a way to get through it so it's good.

Q.  Your routine is a little bit different, too.  You've cut out some of the --
KEVIN NA:  I'm trying.  My father and I, he's been a big part of my game.  He's still not happy "laughter".  "What takes you so long?"  "Dad, it's the best I can do."
I tell him it's his fault.  He always told me make sure you focus on every shot growing up.  My mom taught me, I'd be the fastest player in the world.

Q.  Sorry to change the subject, what did you hit on 9?
KEVIN NA:  I think I hit 7-iron.  Good shot out of the rough.

Q.  How long did that take?  I'm just kidding.
KEVIN NA:  27.9 seconds (laughter).
You know, like I said, it is what it is for me and, you know, I try to play my game and try the best I can where I don't affect the guys I'm playing with and I don't think I have been.
Obviously I have days that are -- that it's a struggle for me.  If I'm struggling, hitting it sideways it's going to take longer.  I have to grind it out.  Most of the time I felt like I improved 90 percent of my pace of play so I don't think it's fair for me to be criticized.

Q.  What did you cut out?  What were the couple things that you did to get the led out?
KEVIN NA:  On my putting I don't try to get the line as perfect anymore.  On the shots I just -- I just hit it.

Q.  Do you subconsciously worry maybe more than other guys about pace of play somebody on the clock?
KEVIN NA:  Yes.  If I'm over the ball and I feel like -- should I back off?  I don't back off all the way.  I'm still in there and I'll do a little halfway, going to get back in and hit it because I know what it's going to look like if I back off.
Yes, I'm very conscious of the group in front of me, the group behind me, always looking and I love it when the officials give me a heads-up to our group and say, "Hey, guys, you're falling back a little bit.  Make sure you keep up."
Just a little heads-up warning is all we need sometimes.  You'll see me sprint down the fairway and Kenny, first one down to the ball, get my yardage first and if I'm ready to go, "Guys, I'm ready to go", boom.
I'm very aware of my situation and I'm doing everything I can -- I don't know what else I can do, really.  I mean we're playing -- for what we're playing for and what's on the line, how much more you really expect?

Q.  So one of the subtitles here if I'm hearing you right is that reputations die hard.
KEVIN NA:  You know, yeah, it is what it is, like I said.  It's my reputation.

Q.  But the reputation for being slow.  It's hard to get over that.
KEVIN NA:  Yeah, it is.  I might never get over it.  People watch me this week or The Players and that don't follow golf regularly.  "That guy is slow."  First thing is, "That guy is notorious for playing slow."
Just because you have that mindset and on one hole they're watching TV and the wind swirls and I back off.  "There you go.  What did I tell you guys?  He's slow."
I mean I just try to make everything positive about it.  I try my best and I tell the guys, "Look, I'm trying and I've got" -- like I said, I've got a lot of compliments which I really appreciate for how much effort I put into it.
Someone comes up to me and says, "Kev, I see you're working on it a lot, you worked on it a lot.  You've done a good job."
To me, it's so nice of them to say that.

Q.  What is at stake?
KEVIN NA:  What is at stake tomorrow?  Obviously something shiny.  I mean I've been playing very well this year.  Off an injury last year.
I worked really hard to get back to where I'm at right now.  I feel pretty confident about my game.  I obviously got one win and I think my career, I've had a pretty successful career except I think I lack in wins.  I think it's time for me to catch up to that number that I need to be at.

Q.  Did you feel a week like this coming?
KEVIN NA:  Yes, I actually did.  Don't sound cocky.  I've just been playing well.  The putter was very cold on the West Coast and I've been striking the ball very well and my caddy keeps tell me, "Kevin, wait, you're going to be in contention a lot more this year, just wait."  I believe him.

Q.  Think about the Masters at all?
KEVIN NA:  Yeah, of course.  I've been fortunate enough to play the last four years and obviously last year, that was one tournament that -- only tournament I played well while I was hurt.
It was pretty crazy for me to play.  Yeah, obviously love to go back.  It's a place that you always want to be.  Is it lingering in the back of my head?  Yes.  I've got a chance tomorrow.  So, we'll see and get it done.
DOUG MILNE:  All right.  Kevin, we appreciate your time as always.  Thank you.  See you tomorrow.

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