Kevin Na has won three PGA Tour tournaments, including the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. Following each victory, he picks a special place near his master bedroom for the new trophy and hopes to fill a spot with the 18-inch silver cup awarded by the United States Golf Association to the U.S. Open champion to display and keep for a year.
“I need to work on getting win number four and I wouldn’t mind the next win being a major,” Na said by phone Wednesday morning. “I feel like my game is there. If I have my ‘A game’ off the tee this week, I think I will have a chance.”
Na, the 2011 Shriners Open champion and a Southern Highlands member, is at 80-1 odds to win this week’s U.S. Open. He tees off at 1:14 p.m. Thursday at Pebble Beach Golf Links with Rafa Cabrello Bella and Keegan Bradley.
Other players with Las Vegas ties scheduled to play include Scott Piercy, Adam Scott, Aaron Wise, Bryson DeChambeau, the defending Shriners Hospitals for Children Open champion, and Rickie Fowler, a member at the Summit.
Heading into previous U.S. Open tournaments, Na and other PGA Tour players have been critical about the course setup by the USGA. Na has a different opinion this week.
“Of all of the U.S. Opens I have played, I really think this one is setup more on the fair side,” Na said. “No. 1, this golf course is just awesome. It doesn’t favor one style of play. The other thing is I think they have done a good job with some of the holes having graduating rough lines.
“I feel like that Thursday and Friday the scores are going to be somewhat low for a U.S. Open, but then the course is really going to start firming up and getting really difficult on Saturday and Sunday. I think if you want to stay ahead of the game here this week, you need to post red numbers early.”
It’s easy for a player’s mind to wander leading up to a major, but Na attempts to maintain normalcy even though he admitted a major is unique.
“I try to treat a major like it’s just another event, but you can’t help yourself to think about it a little differently,” Na said. “The atmosphere and everything is different, and I do a lot more preparation for a major than other regular events.
“I get to a major earlier than I do other tournaments. This week I got here Saturday night and played some holes on Sunday, which I don’t usually do. Normally, I get to a tournament on a Monday so obviously I have a lot more time to prepare at a major and I spend more time on everything.”
Win No. 2 on the PGA Tour for Na was seven years in the making and then win No. 3 came in less than a year.
“I always knew I was going to win more tournaments, but it took a while,” Na said. “After I won the second one, I think I believed in myself a lot more and was more in control for number three. There was no doubt — or a lot less doubt — heading into Sunday and that really helped me get my third win.
“I think that will also help me get win number four when I am in contention. My confidence is definitely trending in the right direction. Maybe it’s time for the underdog to win the U.S. Open this week.”
Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt can be reached at email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider.
When: Thursday, Friday, 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (FS1); 1:30-4:30 p.m. (KVVU-5). Saturday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. (KVVU-5). Sunday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (KVVU-5).
Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California.
Purse: $12.5 million. Winner’s share: $2.25 million.
Defending champion: Brooks Koepka.