Kevin Na's long preshot routine and human-rain-delay tactics were the talk of The Players a couple weeks back. At the time, he promised to work at his swing and routine, and initially at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, it appeared he had. But on Friday, Na was put on the clock, and oh, he wasn't happy about it.
Na, John Huh and Aaron Baddeley were put on the clock shortly before the turn, and Na would go on to card three bogeys after the declaration. Afterward, he only slightly held back:
"We were in position all day. We were waiting the first few holes. I'm constantly looking where we are in position. 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 refused to comment on whether he was being singled out, but his "no comment" spoke volumes. He emphasized that he didn't mind being warned for slow play, but that he should have been given the chance to pick up the pace on his own, rather than immediately being flagged.
Of course, it's worth noting that simply being "put on the clock" constitutes its own warning, and that Na is indeed being singled out because of past precedent -- stopping a small problem before it becomes bigger. Na has to know that regardless of how much sympathy people may have with the psychological issues behind his slow play, the simple fact that there is ZERO support for slow play in the golf world means that he'll need to adjust to the pace of the game, not the other way around.
Interestingly, coming into this tournament Na apparently did refocus his preshot routine to the point that he cut his waggling by as much as two-thirds. As ESPN's Richard Durrett notes, "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."
Na shot 70-71 over the tournament's first two days, and currently sits at +1, twelve shots behind out-of-his-mind leader Jason Dufner.