The year is 2045. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are still haunting your nightmares and destroying all your hopes and dreams. Other than that, things are going pretty well.
Kevin Na had one win over his first 369 PGA Tour starts; he has now had four in his last 55 (h/t Ben Everill). Na shot a weekend 126 (61-65) to win his fifth PGA Tour event at the Sony Open. A three-putt bogey on the 12th hole on Sunday seemed to seal his fate, but he came back with four birdies over his last six holes. Sony Open Results
Less than two years ago, after winning at Colonial, Na was asked how many PGA Tour courses he thought he could win on. He gave an answer eerily close to the one Kevin Kisner gave to a similar question at the start of this week. “I’d say seven or eight,” Na said. “Some golf courses I feel like I have no chance. I don’t play those unless it’s a major.”
Like Kisner, Na is not a long hitter. Three of his five career victories—the Greenbrier, the Charles Schwab Challenge, and the Sony—have come at the relatively rare venues that place a lower premium on distance. This week, he ranked 44th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, but he made up ground with strong SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green numbers. At 37 years old, Kevin Na is up to No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking and could make a push for his first Ryder Cup appearance this fall.
The second winner
He finished a shot short of Kevin Na this weekend, but Chris Kirk had a week to remember in Hawaii. Playing on the final start of a major medical extension and needing T-3 or better to keep his status, Kirk shot four consecutive rounds of 65 and finished T-2.
A four-time PGA Tour winner, Kirk has battled alcohol abuse and depression, and he recently took time away from the game to address those issues. Last year, he won the King & Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour and has now racked up three top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour since July. After all he’s been through, it’s great to see Kirk on the upswing. For more on his journey, read Will Gray’s piece from last summer.
A listening exercise
Less than a week after a hot mic caught Justin Thomas using a homophobic slur at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Ralph Lauren “discontinued” its sponsorship of the No. 3 player in the world. “While we acknowledge that he has apologized and recognizes the severity of his words,” the statement reads, “he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture that we strive to uphold.”
The Friday news dump sent Twitter into a tailspin. When it comes to the particulars of how Ralph Lauren handled the situation, people are entitled to their opinions. But we want to do our best to promote what we think are the most important voices on the issue—the voices of those who are directly affected by homophobia.
Eamon Lynch, writer for Golfweek and one of the few openly gay men in golf media, penned must-read column about JT and Ralph Lauren. Lynch deplores the predictably polarized Twitter debate and argues for nuance: “The company’s decision to drop Thomas won’t sit well with many, but it does not fall under the lazy jargon of ‘cancel culture.’ It’s merely an example of the free market at work. The flip side of those facts is that an isolated, angry comment isn’t the full measure of a man, and that the defense of human dignity isn’t best mounted by an industry that postures while surviving on sweatshops.”
Eamon doesn’t let the golf world off the hook, either. He makes abundantly clear that we have a lot of work to do to help LGBTQ+ people feel welcome. Read the article all the way through; the most searing paragraphs come toward the end.
He won’t come home with a trophy, but 22-year-old Joaquín Niemann had a phenomenal run in Hawaii. The young Chilean lost in a playoff to Harris English at Kapalua and finished one shot behind Kevin Na this weekend. A 65.3 stroke average for two weeks is pretty solid, as are back-to-back runner-up finishes.
For the first time in history, there are five players under 24 years old—Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Sungjae Im, and Joaquín Niemann—in the top 25 of the OWGR.
In their previous 79 PGA Tour starts, Martin Trainer and Michael Kim had combined to make one cut. Both got to the weekend at Waialae. Trainer ended up T-47 while Kim finished T-65.
With his fifth PGA Tour win, Kevin Na joins golf’s most illustrious society: the Swedish Pancake Club. Other members of the five-PGA-Tour-win crew include Carl Pettersson (the Swedish Pancake himself), Rickie Fowler, Brian Gay, Marc Leishman, Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, Billy Horschel, Scott Verplank, Jason Dufner, J.B. Holmes, Ben Crane, Tom Lehman, Billy Mayfair, Jonathan Byrd, Mark Wilson, Jesper Parnevik, and John Daly. What a group! And we know there are many others, but we got tired of Googling.
Cheyenne Woods won a three-round Cactus Tour event by 16 shots this weekend. Her three rounds were the first, second, and third lowest rounds of the event (via Monday Q Info).
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: The Swedish Pancake Zone, Preemptive Preferred Lies, JT gets dropped
This Monday episode pushes on even though Brendan is wallowing in a state of despair about the Browns season coming to a close. They quickly transition from that sadness to the triumph of Kevin Na, who does not enter the Rickie Zone but rather the Swedish Pancake Zone with his fifth tour win. They examine some of the places he’s bagged those Ws and some of the other names in the Pancake Stack. The Sony is broken down into some things they liked—the Chris Kirk story, outrageous scoring, Webb’s sunscreen application apathy—and some things they didn’t like—preemptively playing preferred lies, the Nick Taylor ruling, Peppy Peter’s quote that angles never matter. News hits on a driving range netting rumor, Bryson’s trouble on the back end, and the announcement that Ralph Lauren was dropping Justin Thomas. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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