Tuesday, May 15

The Flawless Perspective of Kevin Na

Kevin Na (Allison)
PUT ME DOWN WITH THOSE WHO are sick of slow play on the PGA Tour. It seems so dumb, really. Why on God’s green fairways does it have to take so long to play a golf shot? I know they’re playing for a lot of money. Still ...

Which brings me to Kevin Na, the slow-play pro who was one decent round from winning The Players Championship. Na is slow with a twist. He is Charles Barkley’s hero. He waggles. He fidgets. He can’t pull the trigger. The guy leading The Players Championshp was getting heckled. Heckled, I tell you. I can’t ever remember that happening.

I don’t like Na’s pokiness and I half-shielded my eyes as he addressed the golf ball. But heckling that tortured soul while he’s trying to win the biggest tournament of his life is wrong.

Karen Crouse penned a fine piece about Na’s grace in in the New York Times. A snippet:
Golf is a mirror that reflects one’s character while magnifying flaws: impatience, anger, dishonesty, vanity, arrogance. For all the glitches in Na’s false starts, he impeccably handled the inevitable scrutiny and criticism that his preshot routine engendered. He did not blame his coach for his own discomfort, as some golfers do. He did not get defensive about his waggles, as Sergio GarcĂ­a of Spain did when he was singled out for gripping and regripping his clubs during the 2002 United States Open at Bethpage Black.

To the contrary, Na vowed to do better.

“It’s going to take time, practice and tournaments,” he said, “and I’m going to try to take out the whole waggle. Honestly, it’s going to be a battle.”

For those who followed his round, there was a lesson in Na’s grace under the magnifying glass. His preshot routine may be a work in progress, but his perspective is flawless.
I may not like to watch Na. It’s golf's version of the “The King’s Speech.” But, considering his attitude and brutal honesty about his demons, I’ll be rooting for Kevin Na. Even if it takes him longer than it should to pull the trigger.

2 comments :

Charles Prokop said...

I, too, was impressed with how Na is handling his problem, and I wish him the best at conquering it. It may be particularly hard for him because he somehow manages to hit a good shot after all those false starts.

From a behavioral perspective, those good shots reinforce the false start waggle, just like a good outcome reinforces superstitious behavior. Charles Barkley hits bad shots after his balks, and we all saw how hard it was for him to change on the Haney Project.

Na has all the support I can telepathically send his way. Changing such a well-ingrained habit can be a real struggle, even without heckling from the peanut gallery.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Charles. Good to have a psychology expert weigh in on the topic.