Archive for Friday, April 22, 2011

Na’s one-hole score of 16 gives all golfers hope

April 22, 2011

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Admit it, duffers, Kevin Na is your new hero.

It’s OK to say you enjoyed watching replays and video clips of Na hacking his way out of a thicket of trees, brush and vines en route to a 16 on the ninth hole during the opening round of last week’s Valero Texas Open.

If you’re scoring at home, it goes into the record books as a duodecuple-bogey — a formal way of saying he was 12 over on the hole, a challenging, 474-yard par-4 on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

The 16 is the worst score recorded on a par-4 since the PGA Tour began keeping records of hole-by-hole scores in 1983. The worst score on any hole since then was John Daly’s 18 on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998, when the real-life Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy kept taking penalty drops until he cleared a water hazard on the seventh attempt.

There are other published reports of even bigger blow-up scores, including a reported 19 by Ray Ainsley on the par-4 16th hole at Cherry Hills during the 1938 U.S. Open and a 23 by Tommy Armour during the 1927 Shawnee Open. But a PGA Tour official said Wednesday that anything before 1983 is considered speculation.

“Someone may be aware of another (huge) number, but there is no way to verify it in our system,” tour official Dave Senko said by e-mail.

Many avid golfers of all skill levels likely took perverse pleasure in watching Na’s meltdown on No. 9, because we’ve all had disastrous holes we’d like to forget.

The difference, of course, is that Na, a former Diamond Bar (Calif.) High School star and current Rancho Cucamonga resident, still had a chance to shoot in the 70s. Think about that. He was a collective 4-under par on the other 17 holes.

Even with a 16 on his card, he shot an 80, matching Rory McIlroy’s final-round score at the Masters. And when Na rolled in his last putt, he thought he had shot a 79 because he initially had written down a 15 as his score on No. 9.

It was not until he reviewed videotape of his adventure in the forest that he changed his score and signed for a 16. No, there’s no other sport that would leave it to you to relive your suffering on videotape immediately after the competition to make certain you were properly punished for your poor play.

What made Na’s monumental meltdown even more riveting is that The Golf Channel had “miked” him during the round, so we could hear the exchanges with his caddie as things got progressively worse.

At one point, you could hear him asking his caddie, “How are we going to count all of the strokes? . . . Can’t keep track.”

What is the worst score you’ve ever had on a hole? (Mine was a 10 in a member-member tournament, so I wasn’t allowed to “pick up” and put the ever-popular “X” on the scorecard.

Best story wins a free round of golf with me.

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