June 2020.

Kevin Na sinks a 23-foot birdie on No. 18 in Round 4 at Travelers

In the final round of the 2020 Travelers Championship, Kevin Na makes a 23-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole.

  • In his final round at the Travelers Championship, Kevin Na hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, and had a great day on the green leaving no misses on putts within 10 feet. Na finished his day in 5th at 16 under; Dustin Johnson is in 1st at 19 under; Kevin Streelman is in 2nd at 18 under; and Will Gordon and Mackenzie Hughes are tied for 3rd at 17 under.

    On the par-4 first, Kevin Na’s 126 yard approach to 6 feet set himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Kevin Na to 1 under for the round.

    Na got a bogey on the 443-yard par-4 seventh, getting on the green in 3 and two putting, moving Na to even-par for the round.

    On the 523-yard par-5 13th, Na had a birdie after hitting the green in 2 and two putting. This moved Na to 1 under for the round.

    After a 282 yard drive on the 296-yard par-4 15th, Na chipped his second shot to 7 feet, which he rolled for one-putt birdie on the hole. This moved Na to 2 under for the round.

    On the 444-yard par-4 18th hole, Na reached the green in 2 and sunk a 23-foot putt for birdie. This moved Na to 3 under for the round.

In front of a horde of NASCAR fans, many of whom were wearing “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts, Bubba Wallace said “the sport is changing” after an emotional race Monday at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama.

Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, was joined by all 39 other drivers and their crews in a march down pit road as they pushed his No. 43 to the front of the line in the moments before the race. The gesture came one day after a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall. When the group reached the front line Monday, Wallace climbed out of his car and wept.

If not for a shortage of fuel, Wallace might have had a chance to race for the win. A late stop for gas led to a 14th-place finish, but Monday still felt like a win for Wallace. He went to the fence and, through the wiring, slapped hands with a group of fans as they cheered.

He apologized for not wearing a mandatory mask but said he didn’t put it on because “I wanted to show whoever it was: You are not going to take away my smile.”

“This sport is changing,” he said. “The prerace deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life. From all the supporters, from drivers to crew members, everybody here, the badass fan base, thank you guys for coming out. This is truly incredible, and I’m glad to be a part of this sport.”

Ryan Blaney, who won Monday’s race in a photo finish, said Wallace has been one of his best friends for 15 years, and he called the prerace show of support a special moment.

“And it showed how you’re not gonna scare [Wallace]. You’re not gonna scare him,” Blaney told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “He’s really strong. He’s gonna rise above it and fight this.

“So we just wanted to show our support. I wanted to show my support for my best friend. He’s just been someone I’ve really, really loved for a long time, and I’m gonna support him 100 percent along the way for many years to come. I hope a lot of people will look at that and learn from everyone coming together and supporting each other. That’s what it’s gonna take to make things better.”

The idea for the gesture came up Monday. Jimmie Johnson said in a drivers chat that he would stand with Wallace during the national anthem. Then Kevin Harvick shared the idea that the drivers should push Wallace’s car to the front.

“I’m happy to play a role in it. I want to. I know I need to,” Johnson said after his 13th-place finish. “And I feel like to see the garage area stand up as they have as well in the last few weeks, and then again today, is sending a very strong message, and I’m very proud of our sport.”

Standing alongside Wallace for the national anthem was Richard Petty, the 82-year-old Hall of Fame driver known as “The King.” Wallace drives the No. 43 Chevrolet for Petty, who issued a scathing rebuke after the noose was found, calling for the “sick person” to be expelled from NASCAR forever, a move that NASCAR president Steve Phelps insisted will happen when the person is caught.

Sources told ESPN’s Marty Smith that Petty decided to travel to Talladega after the noose was found and that he said the “most important thing for me right now is hugging my driver.” This marked the first race Petty had attended since the sport was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers painted “#IStandWithBubbaWallace” on the infield grass before Monday’s race, which was postponed from Sunday because of inclement weather.

Two weeks ago, Wallace successfully pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its venues, though the sanctioning body has not outlined how it will enforce the restriction. Disgruntled fans with Confederate flags drove past the main entrance to the Alabama race track prior to Sunday’s race, and a plane flew above the track pulling a banner of the flag that read “Defund NASCAR.”

Hours after the race was postponed by rain, NASCAR said the noose had been found. The sanctioning body vowed to do everything possible to find who was responsible and “eliminate them from the sport.” Wallace said in a statement Sunday that he was “incredibly saddened” by the act.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she was “shocked and appalled” by the “vile act” against Wallace, an Alabama native.

“There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state,” Ivey said. “Bubba Wallace is one of us. He is a native of Mobile, and on behalf of all Alabamians, I apologize to Bubba Wallace as well as to his family and friends for the hurt this has caused and regret the mark this leaves on our state.”

Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore said NASCAR contacted the FBI, which is handling the investigation. The FBI field office in Birmingham, Alabama, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.

Officials at Sonoma Raceway in California said Monday that they are looking into what could be a similar incident after “a piece of twine tied in what appeared to be a noose” was found “hanging from a tree on raceway property” on Saturday. The track’s president said the incident is under investigation by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

After Monday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Aric Almirola, who finished third, said he was speechless when he found out that a noose had been found in Wallace’s garage stall.

“So you see people lash out and show signs of evil and darkness, and it just comes from a bad place,” Almirola said. “And I think the most important thing you can respond with that is light and love. And showing how to stand up and how to show positivity and have a heart. And I feel like, as an industry, that’s what we did today.”

Former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to Twitter to offer his support for Wallace in the wake of Sunday’s incident.

Lewis Hamilton, Formula One’s only Black driver and its reigning champion, also offered his support via Instagram.

“It’s disgusting that this is happening, stay safe and alert out there bro,” Hamilton wrote. “Supporting you from afar, proud of you.”

After the race Monday, Wallace said he is going to “keep on truckin'” and looks forward to racing next weekend at Pocono Raceway.

“Hey, I’m still smiling,” he said. “Long week ahead of me — probably a couple weeks, probably a couple months. … So I’ll be ready for Pocono.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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After shooting 2-over 73 and playing himself out of the tournament, Bubba Watson didn’t have much to celebrate Saturday at the RBC Heritage.

He did, however, have reason to shell-ebrate.

Watson avoided a bizarre rules decision after hitting his tee shot into a greenside bunker at Harbour Town’s par-3 17th hole and discovering a small crab under his ball. Just as PGA Tour rules official Slugger White arrived on the scene, the crustacean decided to avoid any further issues, crawling out from under Watson’s ball and flipping over on its back in the sand nearby.

Able to play the ball, Watson didn’t need a ruling. But still, the situation provided plenty of great commentary.

“Stick your tee down there, man,” Watson told his playing competitor, Rory McIlroy, as they waited for White. “It won’t get your finger, and if it does, it’ll be funnier.”

McIlroy then quipped: “Soft shell?”

Watson kept insisting that he didn’t want to play the shot with the crab under his ball because, “I don’t want the world to get mad at me.”

He went on to further explain: “There was a camera and, you know, people get mad cause I’d hit an animal. … We got enough issues in our world right now, we don’t need crab issues.”

Luckily, a potential crisis was averted, and Watson splashed safely out of the sand before making bogey. Still no word, however, on the status of the crab after Watson’s caddie, Ted Scott, mentioned it looked to be “playing dead.”

This isn’t Watson’s first brush with wildlife on the golf course. He also had to put his zoology knowledge to the test at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits when his ball came to rest on a small anthill.

Watson called a rules official over, but after the official informed Watson that ants were not considered burrowing animals per the Rules of Golf and he would have to play the shot, Watson went on a bit of an ant rant.

“Okay, but I have a question for you,” he said to the official. “Since it’s an animal. It is an animal, right? Do you agree with that? It’s burrowing, it’s digging a hole. It’s either an ant bed or it’s an animal digging a hole. It’s one or the other.”

Not getting anywhere with the official, Watson tried one last-ditch effort to get relief: “So, if some guy was allergic to ants and he got an ant on him, you could [not] care less?”

This time around, Watson avoided a crabby rules discussion – well, kind of.

The stage is set for Inter Miami CF to continue their inaugural season, with Major League Soccer announcing last week that its season will resume starting July 8. But when Inter Miami returns to the field, they’ll do so without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando — meaning South Florida fans and Inter Miami CF Stadium will have to continue to be patient for the team’s long-awaited home debut in Fort Lauderdale.

As a part of the club’s “We Are the Sky” campaign, Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender wrote a poem that discusses missing the emotions fans would provide during a home game — but from the stadium’s perspective.

The team’s March 14 home opener against the L.A. Galaxy and ensuing home games were postponed in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The only time Inter Miami fans were able to watch the team suit up at Inter Miami CF Stadium was during an a practice session that was open to season-ticket holders on March 10 — two days before MLS suspended the season.

“All of the players, the club and the community were really looking forward to having the inaugural [home game],” Callender said. “It would’ve been a crucial time to build a relationship with our fans. It’s our home. The stadium itself hasn’t been able to be used as much as we thought it would be used this year. My approach to it was ‘If I am feeling this way, and I’m a player then how would the place feel in these times?’

“Not only do we miss out on spending time in the stadium, but the stadium misses out on spending time with us.”

In the poem, Callender wrote: “The darkest hours summon the brightest lights, and in this light, the herons fly. Alike the herons, I’ve embodied stillness, and since I can’t impress, I must confess…You are the heart, you are the soul, you are the presence that makes me feel whole, you are the community I was built for, you are the fans that we fly for.”

In both the poem and in a conversation with the Sun Sentinel, Callender credits the fans for bringing life and energy to the stadium that the team will miss during the tournament. Inter Miami plans to resume their season in Fort Lauderdale after the tournament end, but it’s unknown whether those games will be played without fans in the stadium.

“In some sense,” Callender said, “the stadium does come alive when the people are there.”

As for how he’s feeling about playing without fans, Callender said it’ll be a challenge but said it’s the right environment for the league to plan in amid the pandemic.

“Collectively as a league, every team wants to play in their own stadium,” Callender said. “Even though it’s a bummer that we can’t be in our home stadium, we’ve all been urging to play so it’s an opportunity to get back on the field in a proper environment.”

By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM

  • James Nicholas is an avid outdoor photographer. (Courtesy of James Nicholas)

It’s rare to see a Korn Ferry Tour player who is an Ivy League alum.

More rare, perhaps, to learn that alum was the pre-med track.

Rarer still to see that Ivy League alum on a pre-med track also boast a serious following on Instagram and YouTube – his photography and video work racking up millions of views and thousands of likes.

But that’s James Nicholas.

After earning 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour status by advancing to Final Stage of Q-School, Nicholas – who was first alternate at the Panama Championship, Country Club de Bogota Championship and El Bosque Mexico Championship – is eager to test his mettle against some of the best in the world.

First, though, the 23-year-old spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital to chat about his love of photography, how someone with a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology managed to become a professional golfer, and how his grandfather helped Joe Namath and the New York Jets win Super Bowl III.

So you went to Yale, one of the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in the world, and you played multiple sports. How did that come to be?

I grew up playing tons of sports, but I grew up in a family where school came first. My dad went to Harvard. He was a baseball and football player there. My mom was a talented athlete as well. I played a ton of different sports, but my parents were always like, ‘You have to finish your homework before you go play with your friends.’ That’s how I learned how to manage my time well. Growing older I realized I wanted to do sports in order to get me into the best university possible. At that moment in time, it was going to be hockey. I always wanted to play hockey – it was my sport. I traveled every weekend for hockey. In my freshman year of high school, I had a college offer for lacrosse and I was talking to colleges for hockey and football. Naturally I was going to play those sports in high school, and golf was just a sport I was decent at, at best, but I wasn’t ever going to play competitively. In my freshman year I broke my collarbone in football and then I re-broke it in hockey. I went to the nurse’s office to get my approval to play lacrosse and she looks at me and said, ‘Maybe it’s best if you play something with less contact’ (laughs). I ended up playing golf.

I joined the team as a freshman and I made the (state championship) as a freshman and that was the first time a freshman had made it in a long time. That gave me the motivation to really practice and elevate my game to the next level. The next couple of years I got better and in my junior year (of high school) I got the itch, fell in love with the game. My college coach, Colin Sheehan, came to watch me at a high school tournament and he said he wanted to have me at Yale.

How did you manage your time with football, hockey, and then eventually golf?

At that point I had an offer for football as well and I just fell in love with it. The campus is beautiful. New Haven (Connecticut) doesn’t have the best rap but it’s an awesome city and I was lucky enough to be there. The golf course is the best college course in the country. From there it was purely dedication and once I quit football I focused all my time on school and golf. It was hard to juggle the two – I’m taking four biology classes. There’s biology, chemistry … the list goes on and on for all the pre-requisites for pre-med. It never gets easy. Pre-med was the harder track but I grew up in a family where my father was a doctor, my grandfather was a doctor. They were both doctors with the Jets. My grandfather won Super Bowl III with the Jets. It was a tradition. I would always ask my dad, “How was surgery today?” so I was always interested in it. Science was always my favorite thing in school – science and math. I always felt that biology would be my major at Yale, but I never really thought how hard it would be. If I was to dedicate my time, I could do it.

Wait, your grandfather helped win a Super Bowl? Like Joe Namath and those New York Jets?

He was the team doctor (laughs). He was the one that operated on Joe’s knee and developed the knee brace that Joe wore in Super Bowl III.

That’s pretty cool.  

It’s always amazing. During the 50th reunion for Super Bowl III, in 2019, we went on the field, since my grandfather passed away (in 2006). We were there with the whole team during the ceremony and it was pretty awesome to have all the guys come up to me and tell me stories about my grandfather. My dad was the water boy for that team. All the stories they told me were just amazing.

During this time of COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding it, and not playing professional golf right now, did you ever think, ‘Maybe I should pivot and be a doctor?’

Once I quit football my sophomore year, I told myself I was going to become a professional golfer. Now that I have Korn Ferry Tour status, this has been my main focus. Obviously I’d love to help any way I can but I’ll leave that to the professionals. I’d have to go through four years of med school anyway before I could help, so it’d be a while (laughs).

In terms of playing at Yale, your scoring average improved tremendously year after year. What was the key to that improvement and what did you learn?

I always went back to look at my scoring average and in my freshman year I think it was 74.5, which is horrific. Then in my senior year it was 69.1 I look back and just … I didn’t leave the course. I would wake up at 6 a.m. every day, practice until 9 a.m. at the course, then went to class from 9-2 p.m. and then I’d practice from 2-6 p.m. and then I’d study until 11 p.m. and I’d do the same thing every day. During the winter there was an indoor facility and if I wasn’t in class I was in there, either studying or practicing. I’d hit 100 golf balls, then study or work for an hour. Sometimes I would sleep in that room. The security guards came to kick me out a few times. The dedication helped me change from a below-average college player to accomplishing everything I did at Yale.

How have you felt through this calendar year so far? You have limited Korn Ferry Tour status and it’s been a long break through the early part of 2020.

There have been ups and downs. Just getting to Final Stage was a big goal, which I did, and I secured my card but then everything re-focuses and I wanted full status. I missed by three shots at Final Stage, which was a bummer, but I played great. I was really happy with it as a first try out of school. I was told I could get a few starts and I was in the field for the first two events that got canceled (due to COVID-19). I had my chance there and I was looking forward to getting in and reshuffling into the full status category. But I’ve been itching to get going and itching to get starts, but everyone is going to be playing now with the break. Even the PGA TOUR guys are going to try to play in some (Korn Ferry Tour) events, so I’m going to play the Monday qualifiers. It’s a different path than I expected to take, but I still have an opportunity. It’s going to be a little harder but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can make something happen.

You’ve got a couple of Instagram accounts plus a well-followed YouTube channel. How did you get into that side of the media?


(Courtesy of James Nicholas)

That story really started when I was 13-14. For Christmas I was given a GoPro Hero 1 – it was the very first GoPro ever made. It was impossible to use; the battery died every five minutes, and it was just the first shot at them making a camera you could take under water and attach it to your surfboard. That was something I wanted to do. I wanted to bring it into the water, surf with it, and get cool videos of me and my brother and my buddies just having a good time in the summer. That’s what it started as – I just tried to capture the moment. I slowly started using editing software and I realized I could make awesome videos and compilations of all these shots I’d taken. I started doing that and posting them on YouTube, and different companies reached out to me and were like, ‘Do you mind if we send you a couple of hats you can wear?’ and I was like, as a 15-year-old, ‘Free stuff? Yeah! Send it my way. I’ll wear that.’ Fast-forward a couple of years and Greyson Clothiers had reached out (via friends) and we were the media team at the Greyson, an up-and-coming company at the time. We met up with Morgan Hoffmann and we did this huge shoot and that’s when it really took off. I thought I could really do something and help grow brands while growing my own brand and having fun.

What’s the aesthetic you’re going for? Most of your photos have the same kind of look and vibe to them.

I love being creative and doing things that are youthful and energetic and modern. I think a lot of the golf ads are just so boring and streamlined to this one look, and that’s what made me want to focus on the golf side of the content. Before then I had posted on YouTube just videos of all my travel stuff – like there was one video to Iceland and that video has over 1 million views now. Once I got with Greyson and started doing all their content, it made me believe I could do it in golf and make golf more interesting and capture a wider audience.

People have bucket-list courses they want to play, but do you have a list of places you want to go to shoot?

The best combination of my love for travel and golf would be Lofoten Links in Norway. There’s a picture for the cover of GOLF Magazine under the Northern Lights and it is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. That is the dream, to be playing under the Northern Lights. There’s nothing cooler or more majestic than seeing those. And to combine those with a golf course is unbeatable.

Sand Valley, Bandon Dunes, those are two courses that photograph really well. I definitely want to go back to Scotland and England and take photos of the links courses. I first went over there with my Yale golf team and I was able to do a bunch of drone work but I did all videos. I think photos have been catching my eye more. I want to blow them up on walls. I want to sell them in pro shops.

How have you felt using a drone has changed photography?

No one sees courses from that perspective. When you put a drone up there, it’s like a whole new perspective. I flew it at my home course the other day and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ The contours, the architecture … it’s so cool. It makes you appreciate golf-course architects more.

You have a girlfriend and her name, it’s … America?

Yup! America – just like the country.

Is she a content creator as well?

She’s like my model. It’s perfect. She’s starting to be a content creator but for food. She’s an amazing chef. During quarantine we’ve just been focused on golf and cooking – and it’s been awesome. She started her own food Instagram and it’s been blowing up.

She’s the queen of all foodies and I guess I’m starting to become one as well.

There are usually some perks to being on the winning bag at a PGA Tour event – a little something extra for the effort, as Carl Spackler once elegantly put it – but a car?

That’s what happened at last year’s Charles Schwab Challenge, where the tournament winner was awarded a glacier-blue 1973 Dodge Challenger that had been fully restored by Steve Strope, who is renowned for his custom work on American muscle cars from the 1960s and ’70s.

Kevin Na pocketed the $1.314 million paycheck and donned the tartan winner’s coat, but the keys to the car went to longtime caddie Kenny Harms. It has to go down as one of the coolest gestures to celebrate a victory.

“I don’t know of a better one,” said Harms, who has caddied for the likes of Hall of Famers Hale Irwin, Raymond Floyd and Hubert Green since 1991 and worked for Na for more than a decade.

Harms’ wheels have been making the rounds at some car shows, including SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas, and so Harms says he’s only put about 400 miles on his prized possession.

The car buff already owns a 1998 black Porsche 911 Carrera convertible and a 2006 Porsche Cayenne, but he had his eye on the Dodge Challenger as soon as he spotted it on Tuesday of tournament week sitting along the 10th hole at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It was kind of silent before everyone teed off and I said, ‘Hey, Kevin, when we win, I’ll look a lot better than you in that car with my baby blue eyes. When we win it, you’re going to give me the car, right?’ ” Harms recalls. “He kind of looks over at the car, looks at me, looks back at the car a second time and says, ‘Yeah, if we win.’ I said, ‘No, when we win.’ He said, ‘All right, I’ll give you the car if I win.’ For some reason, I kept saying, when we win. I had the weirdest feeling we were going to win that week.”

Colonial has been Na’s personal ATM for several years, but victory had eluded him until now. He cruised to a four-stroke victory and flipped the keys to Harms.

“It doesn’t drive like a typical ’73 Dodge Challenger,” said Harms, who once ponied up $200 to buy a ’73 rusty green Camaro, his first car. “The only thing that is original is the shell of the car. Everything else has been replaced. I’m told it was bought for $20,700, stripped it down to the metal and they put $180,000 in parts and $200,000 in labor into it. It’s a piece of art to me.”

Kenny Harms