July 8, 2018 / 10:33 PM / a month ago

Golf - Na wins by five at Greenbrier for first victory since 2011

(Reuters) - American Kevin Na won his first PGA Tour event since 2011 as he shot a final-round six-under 64 for a five-stroke victory at The Greenbrier in West Virginia on Sunday.

Jul 8, 2018; White Sulphur Springs, WV, USA; Kevin Na on the 3rd tee during the final round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier golf tournament at The Old White TPC. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Five birdies in six holes on the front nine put Na in control and he finished at 19-under-par 261 at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs for his second career win.

Third-round co-leader Kelly Kraft carded an even-par 70 to claim second place at 266.

Fellow Americans Brandt Snedeker (64) and Jason Kokrak (67) tied for third on 267.

Kraft, Snedeker, Kokrak and Austin Cook earned places in the British Open starting at Carnoustie on July 19 thanks to their performances at the tournament.

NA ENDS DROUGHT

The win ended a seven-year drought for the 34-year-old Na, who won the Shriners Open in Las Vegas in 2011 and despite some close calls had not taken home a trophy since.

“It feels amazing. I see the record every time on TV - the most top fives, the most top 10s without a win,” he told CBS.

“I’m always up there. I’ve been close so many years and failed so many times,” said Na, who turned pro at age 17.

Jul 8, 2018; White Sulphur Springs, WV, USA; Kevin Na chips to the 2cd green during the final round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier golf tournament at The Old White TPC. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“It took me eight years to win the first time and at the time I told everyone it would not take me eight years to win another one. And it took seven,” he said with a laugh.

Na’s spectacular putting was the difference on Sunday as he negotiated the hard, fast greens under sunny skies in West Virginia better than Kraft, whose three-putt bogey on 14 all but ended his hopes of a maiden PGA Tour victory.

The demonstrative Na, who frequently yells at the ball after he hits it and is known for his heated debates with longtime caddie Kenny Harms, said the win taught him the importance of keeping his emotions in check when the pressure ramps up.

“Most importantly today I kept within myself,” said Na, whose only blemish in his seven birdie round was a bogey on the par-four 11th.

“I never got ahead of myself... Things were just happening and for some reason I felt like it was my day,” he said.

“Maybe somebody up there was looking out for me.”

VARNER FADES, MICKELSON PENALIZED

Overnight co-leader Harold Varner III had his worst showing of the tournament, mixing three birdies with three bogeys and a double bogey for a round of two-over 72 that extinguished his hopes of a first PGA Tour win.

Phil Mickelson, playing in his first tournament since the U.S. Open where he ran down his bogey putt and struck the ball while it was still moving, was penalized two shots on Sunday for improving his line of play.

Before teeing off on the par-four seventh he stepped on a tuft of grass, which he later told rules officials was in his preferred line, leading to the penalty.

The five-time major champion had three bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey on 18 to go with four birdies for a final-round 74 to finish the tournament at 279 and tied for 65th place.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond

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