PGA TOUR Report, 27 May 2019: The worst car that veteran caddie Kenny Harms ever owned was a green 1973 Chevy Camaro. He paid $200 for it and soon nicknamed it the Putty Box because that’s the material he kept using to fix the rust.
On Sunday, Harms became the owner of another car built in 1973. This one’s considerably more valuable … and certainly more significant, as it comes courtesy of his man Kevin Na, who romped to a four-shot victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Among the perks for winning at Colonial are a plaid jacket, the Texas-sized Leonard trophy, a permanent spot on the Wall of Champions and a hefty check. This year, another perk was added – a 1973 blue Dodge Challenger to commemorate the year the Charles Schwab company was founded.
It’s a unique prize, one that Na remembers hearing about months ago. Harms was equally aware of it too, and during a recent promotional piece on the car for the Caddie Network, he had a message for Na: “You wouldn’t really look so great in this but I will. I should get the car if you win.”
Then on Tuesday during the practice round, they spotted the Challenger sitting just off the 10th fairway.
“Kevin, that’s my car, right?” Harms said.
“Yeah, if I win, I’ll give it to you,” replied Na.
“BOOM!” Harms said as he retold the story on the 18th green at Colonial, the trophy presentation having just completed. “Pretty smart for a caddie.”
Said Na: “I don’t know how my caddie convinced me to give him the car, but he’s a good salesman I guess. He sold me into it. But I’m more than happy to give it to him. He deserves it.”
Na then patted the Leonard Trophy, which stands 42 inches tall and weighs 55 pounds, making it one of the biggest trophies on TOUR. It’s one he’s long coveted – and one he long imagined winning, perhaps even expecting to at some point.
Colonial is one of the few courses on the PGA TOUR that Na thinks fits his shot-makers game. It’s not overly long, it rewards precision, and several of the holes play to his strengths. “I think a lot of my draws work out here,” said Na, who moved to 27th in the FedExCup standings.
He also called it a second-shot-in golf course, noting that a majority of well-struck tee shots end up in the same spot in the fairway. “It’s about how good you can hit it with the irons and how well you can putt,” said Na, whose career-low 61 came here last year, and who shot a 62 on Friday to jump into contention. “I’m a pretty good player fairway in.”
He was more than good on Sunday, hitting 14 of 18 greens and making several key putts. Starting the day with a two-stroke lead, Na birdied three of his first six holes – including a 33-foot putt at the fourth — then bounced back from his first bogey with another birdie from 20 feet at the par-3 eighth.
Na, known for walking in putts, kind of side-walked this one, then pumped his first. A few steps later, he smiled for the first time in his round. No one would catch him on this day. He eventually finished at 13 under, and his 4-under 66 was exceeded by only one player Sunday, Russell Knox’s 65.
“A well-deserved win this week,” said Tony Finau, his closest pursuer at 9 under.
A little less than a year ago, Na won at The Greenbrier. It was his second TOUR win but his first in 158 starts. Na said the drought lasted so long – despite several close calls – that he wondered if he would ever win again.
He’s not wondering any more. Although he feels like there are just seven or eight courses he can legitimately contend it – that may explain why he had just one top-10 this season coming into this week — Na is now converting those opportunities.
“I feel like this week was the next chance at a win, next time I legitimately could contend – and I won,” Na said. “I felt so much more comfortable. Had so much more confidence. I think me winning Greenbrier last year has obviously taken a lot of pressure off.”
“There is always pressure, but it’s taken a lot of the load off, a weight off my shoulders. I think it helped me today.”
Harms – who has been on Na’s bag since the end of the 2008 season when he jumped off Hale Irwin’s bag – has noticed the difference.
“Ever since his win at Greenbrier, that was the first time I actually saw a calmness to him that all the greats have in golf,” Harms said. “I can tell when he’s nervous. I never really saw any nervousness from him today.”
Until this week, 2019 had not gone all that smoothly. A finger injury forced him to withdraw from the Sentry Tournament of Champions and sidelined him for a month. A neck injury at Valspar also slowed him down. Then there are courses that simply don’t serve him well, like last week at Bethpage Black when he failed to make the cut.
But Colonial will always be a special place for him. Just before starting his round Sunday, he looked at the Wall of Champions next to the No. 1 tee box and noted the engraved name of last year’s winner, Justin Rose. Then he looked at the empty spot just below it.
“In my head, I engraved my name in it,” Na said.
He won’t have to visualize any longer. Next time he arrives at Colonial, his name will be there, alongside all the other winners, including four-time champ Ben Hogan.
The ’73 Dodge Challenger, though, will not be in his garage. Harms said he has ample room in his own garage, right next to his 911 Porsche Carrera.
But don’t feel too bad for Na. Asked if he owned a car that could race the Challenger, he cracked a smile.
“I got a Lamborghini at home.”