Okay, so Matt Kuchar won the Players and my guy, Mr. Na, crumbled in the final round. When did I know that things weren’t going to work out for the afflicted one?
I’ve got to come clean: I knew he was doomed before I even wrote the previous post professing my identification with, and support for, Kevin. I knew he was a goner Sunday morning when I saw the ESPN interview after Saturday’s round in which he said that if he won he would then be able to “afford” (his word, not mine, hence the quotes) to work a new pre-shot routine. He was disavowing the very process that had brought him to the 54-hole lead in one of the most prestigious tournaments on the tour.
We are all familiar with the advice that if “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I would offer up the following corollary: “Don’t matter none if it look broke, if it’s workin’, don’t fix it.” He was already undermining himself, which of course is what we headcases do.
The next indicator that Mr. Sodium (periodic table reference-look it up) wasn’t going to be hoisting any hunk of crystal that evening was when it became clear that he was trying to play more quickly. Anybody who has battled the paralytic inertia that locks you up as you address the ball knows that the knowledge that you need to get going will invariably lead to swings that are out of kilter. The guys in the NBC booth commended him for his faster pace without allowing for the possibility that this very improvement was harming his performance.
The final nail in the coffin was when he started resetting on his putts. Say what you will about what he does on the tee box or in the fairway before hitting the ball, the guy had been lights out on the greens. But when I saw him take his putter back and then stop, and step away from a putt on the front nine, I knew it was over. The doubt and hesitancy had crept like a fungus into the best part of his game.
There was some harsh stuff written online about Kevin and his pace of play. One guy by the name of Fletch wrote that Na “made him sick.” Really? Sexual predators or dictators who live in opulence while children starve: that’s what makes me sick. A guy who takes an extra 20-30 seconds to hit a golf ball? Not quite in the same league. And here once again is the capper: Na was trying to hurry up because not only was his hesitancy driving himself crazy, but he knew that it was bothering his fellow players and the public as well. He apologized on Saturday to Zach Johnson. If he was the sort of self-centered lout worthy of our derision and disdain, he wouldn’t–as they say in the U.K.– give a toss about what any of you wankers feel about his pre-shot non-routine.
So, anyway, I hope Kevin is working on his mental game as we speak. I know I’m working on mine.