Kevin Na’s Sunday performance at the PGA Tour’s 2015 Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial was a perfect example of what happens sometimes to golfers who get into contention and feel the pressure.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Crown Plaza Invitational, Na played beautifully with a nice, full, easy swing that put him at the top of the leader board heading into the final round.
Then on Sunday, Na couldn’t sustain his great play. As CBS commentator Peter Kostis noted, “Na’s backswing keeps getting shorter and shorter as the day goes on.” That was in sharp contrast to the way he swung the club in the previous three rounds and led to a series of poor shots that took him out of contention. Here’s why. When a golfer fails to finish his backswing, the club has a tendency to stay on a path that’s left of the target line (for right-handed golfers). With that swing, there’s only one way you can start the ball and that’s pulled to the left of the target. Sometimes golfers realize their mistake and compensate by holding the clubface open at impact, resulting in a pull-fade that may end up in the fairway, but with considerable loss in distance. Make sure you finish your backswing to make sure you get the club on the proper path to make a good shot. It’s easy to let yourself get “quick” to try to hit the ball, especially when there’s some pressure to hit a good shot.
Na has had well-documented problems with his game in the past. At one point a couple of years ago he stood over the ball for an inordinately long amount of time before he made his swing. He overcame that inability to pull the trigger. Now he just needs to learn how to relax and make his good full swing when the pressure is on. CBS commentator Ian Baker Finch remarked, “Sometimes Kevin has a tendency to be too hard on himself.” That self-criticism could contribute to his troubles. He may be trying so hard not to make a mistake, that he ends up making one anyway. He’s come such a long way since his days of freezing over the ball, it seems to be just a matter of time before he learns to play the same way on Sunday that he plays the rest of the week and breaks through again for a victory.