“He comes out of the trees with the biggest smile on his face, so I’m looking at him like, ‘What are you smiling about?’” — Kenny Harms, caddie for Kevin Na, on the par-4 ninth hole at TPC San Antonio during the first round of the 2011 Valero Texas Open
Na, you see, got into a “spot of bother” — or, several of them — on that particular hole and recorded a score of 16.
During a recent “Under the Strap” podcast on The Caddie Network, Na and Harms were guests and took us back to that weird hole.
“I was playing good golf,” Na explained. “Over the years they’ve really thinned out the trees and the rocks in the trees. That golf course – in the trees – there’s a lot of limestones in the ground and it’s almost impossible to play off it because the club bounces off the rocks. It was one of the first few years that we played there. I was 1-under par, playing great, and on 9, I hit an errant tee shot to the right. And I hit a provisional, and then I go in there and I don’t have a shot. Take an unplayable, go back, hit it back in there. And I didn’t want to go back to the tee again, because there’s people waiting on the tee. So, I elected to play from there.”
And that’s where things got ugly… and nearly an inch away from painful. Like, literally painful.
“I hit the shot, it bounced off the rock, it bounced off a tree and hits me in the inner thigh,” Na said. “It almost hit me in the nuts. That would have been even funnier to see me on the ground. It literally just missed by an inch. I looked at Kenny and I go, ‘I think the ball just hit me.’ And he goes, ‘How does the ball hit you and end up behind you?’ I said, ‘I’m telling you – it went between my legs and hit me.’ And we ended up playing the video and it did hit me. After that, I blacked out. I don’t remember. The only thing I remember is hitting my last shot out of the trees and then making a huge number. My only thing was I was just trying to get out of there and I zoned out. We had to go back in the booth and replay the film and I had to count all the shots. It ended up being a 16.”
Here’s a look at how it all went down:
Believe it or not, Na nearly still broke 80. He made an 8-10 foot putt on the final hole for what he believed to be a 79, but was sure to double check before signing his scorecard.
“Well, here’s the thing – they told me it was a 15,” Na remembered. “The guys in the TV booth counted 15. So, on the 18th hole – a par 5 – I made two more birdies on the back nine, no bogeys. I’ve got an 8-10 footer for birdie and I called Kenny in, because at the time I’m thinking this is for a 79. So I call Kenny in, we read this putt and I make it and I was like, ‘That was to break 80.’ Before I signed the card, I said, ‘Hey, guys, I want to make sure that we counted it right. I want to go check how many strokes I had in the trees.’ They didn’t count one of the whiffs. It was hard to see, but I whiffed one. So, I said, ‘Well, I actually whiffed it there.’ So, we added one more and it was 16. So, all that grind to shoot 79 turned into an 80.”
That may have been Na’s first viral moment on the PGA Tour, but it wouldn’t be the last.
Na is notorious for walking in putts. It’s something he’s done his whole career and is really funny to see in action, as he sometimes arrives at the hole before the ball even touches the bottom of the cup.
In the third round of the 2019 Players Championship, Na was paired with none other than Tiger Woods.
Na admits that neither player was “playing very well that day.” After Na eagled the par-5 16th he was, “still a bunch over par,” but had the honor on the famous par-3 17th.
“I hit it in there about 5 feet behind the hole to that front left pin,” he said. “And Tiger hits it inside me to about 3 feet. We had a good laugh about that. We were walking off the tee. I’ve done this my whole career – especially short downhillers – I beat it to the hole and I pick it up as soon as it goes in. In practice rounds, I pick it up before it even goes in. I’ll scoop it out of the hole.”
So, Na did that with this birdie putt. And Tiger’s reaction, well, it was better than most.
“As soon as I did that, I peeked over and Tiger’s about to roll on the ground dying laughing,” Na said. “He looked at me and he’s laughing so hard. I kinda laughed and then I went on top of that ridge to watch Tiger putt.”
What happened next stunned Na. Just as Woods made contact with his short birdie putt, he too walked it into the cup and quickly grabbed it out of the hole, imitating Na.
“I never thought he would try to imitate me,” Na laughed. “He does this awful stutter step walk in and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so awful. But because it’s Tiger, it’s cool. Whatever Tiger does is cool. But that thing went viral. They keep showing that over and over at every Players Championship there is.”
Here’s video of Na’s viral moment with Woods:
You can listen to the entire “Under the Strap” podcast with Harms and Na below.