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Las Vegas golfer has no regrets about jump to breakaway circuit

Things haven’t gone as planned for Kevin Na since he made the jump to LIV Golf.

Na was in the first group to leave for the Saudi-backed circuit in 2022. The Las Vegas golfer, who was a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, has struggled with LIV. Two eighth-place finishes are his best results in two-plus years.

Na still has no regrets about making the leap.

“I’m really excited to play here on my new league at LIV Golf,” Na said last week at the circuit’s Las Vegas stop. “I think this is a very exciting and unique format that the fans will learn and get to love more.”

Na, 40, said there were several reasons he made the jump.

“The biggest thing was the schedule because of having three kids at home,” Na said. “I was able to be home more with the kids. I don’t want to miss out on much. So number one was family, and financially it was very appealing.”

No kidding.

Na, despite his poor performance, earned almost $6.2 million his first two LIV seasons. That doesn’t include whatever amount he got for signing with the league.

He also found the team aspect of the competition appealing.

“I didn’t play college golf, and I’ve played an individual game for 22 years of my professional career,” Na said. “I wanted to experience and try something different and something unique, and I think I’m really enjoying it, and being able to call these guys my brothers and go out to dinner, play practice rounds, hang out, and have the same passion and have the same goals together and work hard together.

“I think it’s been a very exciting journey.”

Leaving behind the PGA Tour has come with drawbacks. One of the biggest for Na is no longer playing the Shriners Children’s Open, his hometown event and home to two of his PGA Tour victories.

“I miss it. I think my friends and local fans miss me,” Na said. “I really loved playing that event. I love TPC Summerlin. I enjoy practicing there and playing there. Is it disappointing? Yeah. But I think eventually over time that things will be sorted out and I’ll be able to go back and play in front of a home crowd at Shriners.”

Na believes the benefits of LIV outweigh the loss of Shriners and other tournaments he misses. He finished tied for 35th at 1-under par in the LIV Golf Las Vegas event.

“If this is the trade-off I get over that, I’m happy,” Na said.

Chip shots

— CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite was chosen as a local qualifying location for the U.S. Open. Qualifying will take place May 9. The only other Nevada location tabbed to host a qualifier is Somersett Country Club in Reno on May 13. The U.S. Open will be played June 13-16 at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.

— UNLV sophomore Thienna Huynh received a sponsor’s exemption into the Epson Tour’s Copper Rock Championship, set for May 15-18 at Copper Rock Golf Club in St. George, Utah. The Epson Tour is the top women’s developmental tour. The top 10 finishers on the season points list earn LPGA Tour playing cards for the following season.

— The nomination period is open for the class of 2024 at the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame. Nominations can be made through March 15 for players, club professionals, volunteers, administrators, benefactors or course superintendents who have made a significant contribution to the local golf scene. Nominations can be made at lasvegasgolfhof.com.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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