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Las Vegas’ Na keeps it simple, shares Shriners lead

Kevin Na found no need to complicate matters during the second round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Just hit it straight, hit it close, make putts and move on.

The 28-year-old Las Vegas resident followed the script perfectly Friday, shooting a bogey-free, 8-under-par 63 to move into a share of the lead at TPC Summerlin.

Na, Charlie Wi and first-round leader Jhonattan Vegas are atop a crowded leaderboard at 12-under 130. Kris Blanks, Brendan Steele and Tim Herron are a shot back, with Hunter Haas and seven others two behind after Haas tied the course record with an electrifying 10-under 61.

The round was suspended because of darkness with only one player failing to finish, so there will be no official cut until this morning. Play had been suspended for 40 minutes in the late afternoon because of lightning in the area. Twenty-nine golfers were on the course then and only Fran Quinn was still playing at 6:25 p.m. when play was called for the day.

Quinn will finish up at 7:45 a.m. today, and the third round is scheduled to start at 8:35. The projected cut is 4-under 138, with 79 players inside the line.

Long before it got dark, Na was relaxing at home. He has lived in Summerlin for five years and last week moved into a new home near Red Rock.

“I’ve been hitting the ball real well,” Na said. “I got some good rest coming into this week, and that has helped. But I’m hitting it straighter and longer. It’s as simple as that.”

Na has shot par or better in all 20 rounds he has played in the Shriners Open, and he said playing at home this week touched an emotional chord, too.

“I had the jitters going,” he said. “I actually like that, because a lot of times I’ll come out here and tee it up and not feel anything because we do this every day. Having a little bit of jitters makes me focus better.”

With 15 players within three shots of the lead, Na knows he can’t let up today. He’s surrounded by low scorers, including Vegas, who added a 4-under 67 to the 63 he shot Thursday to stay atop the leaderboard.

“My ball striking wasn’t as good as (Thursday),” Vegas said. “But my putting has been good, and that’s what I’ve been working on.”

Vegas encountered trouble at the par-4 No. 3 when his tee shot landed out of bounds and he hit a provisional drive. But Vegas found his original ball, took the stroke penalty and managed to get up and down for bogey.

“I’m thinking I’m playing my fifth shot,” Vegas said. “But one of the scorers found it way down there. Luckily, it was my ball. How it got there, I have no clue, but it was one of those fortunate breaks that you get when you’re playing well.”

Wi’s only blip in his 66 came when his tee shot found the bunker to the right of the green on the par-3 fifth. He wound up two-putting for bogey.

“The pins were much tougher today,” Wi said. “But I’ve been able to read the greens pretty well. I came over a little earlier to get comfortable with the course, and it definitely helped.”

Scott Piercy doesn’t need a primer on TPC Summerlin; the Bonanza High School graduate knows the course well. His 6-under 65 put him at 10 under for the tournament and in good shape going into the weekend.

“I’m happy, but I definitely left some out there,” Piercy said. “I’m not hitting my exact shot, but I’m not hitting it off the map, either.”

Few players made serious charges in the afternoon. The best performance was Blanks’ 65, as he birdied four of his final five holes to reach 11 under.

He waited out the first suspension on the par-5 18th.

“I’m not sure … why the afternoon was tougher,” he said. “Maybe the better players were playing (in the morning).”

Blanks said the delay helped him on his final hole, on which he nailed a 21-foot birdie putt.

“I had been questioning where I had been trying to hit that tee shot, so it gave me a little time to analyze it,” he said.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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