Charles Schwab Challenge

Charles Schwab Challenge

Charles Schwab Challenge
Fort Worth, Texas
Winner: Kevin Na

To Kevin Na, the view from the first tee at Colonial was most inspiring. He was waiting to tee off in the final grouping of the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge, and he was admiring the Wall of Champions that carries the names of those who had won at the storied Texas club made famous by Ben Hogan. He noticed, especially, just below the name of Justin Rose, the 2018 champion, the empty space awaiting the name of the 2019 champion.

“And in my head,” Na said, “I engraved my name on it.” Na could dare to indulge in such fantasy. First, because he had a two-shot lead going into the final round. And second, because Colonial didn’t demand power. “Fits my game,” said Na. “You’ve got to take advantage … because there are not too many like this on tour anymore.”

But the pressure was a bit heavier. Na had five hungry golfers jammed just two shots behind him — Jim Furyk, 49, who last won in 2015; struggling native son Jordan Spieth; Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, who won in 2016 on his fifth start on the PGA Tour; Taiwan’s C.T. Pan, a month after he won the RBC Heritage, and big Tony Finau, 2016 Puerto Rico Open winner. After an opening par 70, six behind Finau’s lead, Na proceeded to shoot 62-69-66 for a 13-under 267 and a four-stroke win over Finau. It was his third tour win and second in two months.

Except for Jonas Blixt taking the halfway lead, the battle was pretty much confined to the few and didn’t take shape till the final round. Furyk bowed out on a difficult back nine — three bogeys and a double bogey in a 73, his only over-par round. It dropped him to joint 13th. “I’m not really looking at it as like the glass is half-empty,” Furyk had said earlier, of declining chances. “The hourglass has almost run out of sand.” Spieth and Hughes both scattered three bogeys and a birdie, shot 72 and tied for eighth. “But I was swinging the club better today than the entire week,” Spieth said. “It’s just kind of funny how the score won’t show it.” C.T. Pan, who took the lead briefly from Na in the third round, had an odd finale.

He had bookend birdies at Nos. 1 and 18, and bogeyed No. 9 in the middle for a 69, tying for third with Andrew Putnam (66). “It wasn’t my best,” Pan offered, “but I somehow manage to minimize my damage.”

Finau was the lone threat to Na, briefly getting within a stroke. Then Finau bogeyed 16 and Na birdied 14 behind him and led by four. “He wasn’t letting up,” said Finau, who badly needed three or four birdies coming in. “I gave myself the looks to do it. Just wasn’t able to make it happen.”

With the four-shot win, Na also won a classic 1973 Dodge Challenger. He gave it to his caddie. But, some writer wondered, could he race his caddie? “Oh, yeah,” Na said. “I got a Lamborghini at home.


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