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October 02, 2011

Kevin Na says miss was not whiff because he meant to do it, and officials agree

Oct2_na_372x248 Kevin Na, who earlier this year made headlines for making the worst score on a par 4 in the history of the PGA Tour, now has another bizarre moment on his resume.

On the par-4 15th at TPC Summerlin on Saturday, Na took a full swing on the tee and missed his ball completely. At first glance, it looked like a whiff, a mistake that is nearly impossible for a touring pro to make. Na said it was not a whiff, but an intentional change of direction in the middle of his swing because something didn't feel right.

"My transition is what I'm always working on," Na said. "It's always my bad habit is I get quick. And on the way down my transition doesn't feel right, and I try to stop, and obviously it's impossible for me to stop. The only way for me to stop is I have to come up and go over the ball."

In other words, his weight shift felt off, so he simply swung over the ball on purpose. It might sound like a suspicious explanation, but Na said he does it all the time and had discussed the move with Tour officials.

"I've had a talk with a bunch of rules officials, I mean even a couple years ago even," he said. "I remember at Sony, it started with the left arm injury, and it kind of became a habit, and I told them, 'Hey, guys, I do this all the time. So I'm just letting you know ahead of time that I do this all the time.' And we had a big talk, and he said, 'It's not a big deal. As long as you don't make contact, it doesn't matter.'"

Na was not penalized and went on to make par and shoot 66. The rules seem to support his case. From the Rules of Golf on usga.org: "The player is considered to have checked his downswing voluntarily by altering the path of his downswing and missing the ball even though the swing carried the clubhead beyond the ball. If the player had not successfully checked his downswing (i.e., he had struck the ball), he is considered to have made a stroke. Any doubt regarding the player's intent must be resolved against the player."

(Photo: Isaac Brekken/AP)

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