Here’s the clip of Kevin Na making a 16 at Valero Texas Open yesterday. It’s the highest single hole score on the PGA Tour since 1998. I believe John Daly once made an 18 at the 6th at Bay Hill, but I may be mixing memories. The video picks up when Na is deciding what to do with his first tee shot, which ended up a smidgen to the right. He goes back to the tee to play his unplayable and that is where things get interesting.
Shot 3–The club release on his 3rd shot is at least a 9.5 out of 10. It’s textbook. All the key elements are there. He let it go perfectly. He trusted it. He controlled the bounce, the gallery was never in danger and yet you still got the satisfying rattle of graphite. A lot of people think he might overcompensate left here, but I think that was the old, “double reversal.” He’s about to overcompensate left, but then adjusts for that compensation and jacks another way right–golf, ladies and gentlemen.
Shot 4–The caddy says it is 50/50 to get out of the woods. That’s not “great” caddying. When you are a mile into the woods and you can only take a 2-foot back swing? You probably aren’t getting out. Of course, you want to think you can get out, because you’ve already proven you can’t hit the tee shot.
Shot 5–Penalty for hitting yourself. Here’s something I have never managed to do on the golf course. But, I have a side anecdote. Back in the day, Jeff Maggert used to act like he was going to win the Masters every year. You think the prospect of Rory winning is terrifying, try to stomach Maggert in the last couple groups of every Major. He was a poor man’s Tom Lehman. Anyway, one year on the front nine at Augusta, Maggert ripped one off the lip of a bunker, it came back and hit him in the leg. It was jubilation at the 3-Putt household. Maggert, as would be expected, went on to implode from there.
Shot 7–The ball went basically nowhere, and now Na is screwed, because there is no place for him to drop. He’s lost his option to go back to the tee. I imagine at this point the other players in his group are asking, “Can he just take double-par and we can move on?” Incidentally, these are some of the quickest shots that Kevin Na has ever played.
Shot 8 thru 13–Na says, “How are we gonna count all the shots?” The caddy answers, “I have no idea. They have it on tape, we’ll have to count.” That’s more good caddying. This guy is obviously straight from the country club where he watches some guy 4 putt for quadruple and says, “Another bogey Mr. Havercamp?” The five slashes/whiffs whatever you want to call them that it took Na to get out of the woods–now everyone’s been there. I once played a hole in a similar fashion, and someone I was playing with said, “Is there a tree on this hole he hasn’t hit?”
Shot 14–After receiving perhaps the most pathetic golf clap I’ve ever heard for returning his ball to grassy terrain, Na plays his first actual shot since his 2nd tee ball. It ends up in the back fringe. Pure balls.
Shot 15–Announcer, “I don’t really know what this putt is for.” Announcer 2, “I don’t even know what to say, he just didn’t think that through.” Haha, you think? We learn that announcing a sixteen is almost as uncomfortable as making a sixteen.
Shot 16–As Na comfortably taps in for 16, the announcer says, “This is roughly for 15.” And, he was in the ball park. After the round Na said he knew he made a 10, or 15, but wasn’t sure. I got stuck in a bunker once in a junior tournament and took an indiscriminate number of hacks at the ball before I finally popped it out. I think I ended up declaring a ten and we all moved on. All junior tournaments were back in those days were wasting time for 9-holes until you could cash in your hot dog ticket.
I have to say that Na shooting 3-under on the back nine immediately after this took place is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. It’s very hard to make a 16 with only 3 penalty shots, but to be able to bounce back and not go ahead and shoot 85, makes Na’s back nine one of the best 9s on Tour this year in my opinion. Even if he wasn’t totally flustered, most people would pack it in and at least shoot a couple over, but Na acted as if nothing happened and rifled off a quick thirty-three. I think what he had going for him was it was just a couple of bad driver swings. It wasn’t the shanks, or the yips, or anything. If he could keep himself out of the gosh darn brier patch, he was fine. I would have quit out of embarrassment.