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Na joins burgeoning Greenbrier Classic field

By Doug Smock, Staff writer

Kevin Na, who recently rocketed well inside the world’s top 50 players, has joined the growing list of commitments to the fifth Greenbrier Classic.

Na currently is 10th in the FedExCup points race. He owns a PGA Tour victory and several close calls, including two this year in his comeback from a 2013 back injury.

He started the 2013-14 season with a third-place finish in the season-opening Frys.com Open in California and was second in the Valspar Championship in Florida in March. But his most impressive runner-up performance came two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament near Columbus, Ohio, an event he nearly won from his couch.

He was well back in the pack entering the final day, but fired an 8-under-par 64 in the final round. He waited more than two hours before Hideki Matsuyama birdied the 18th to force a playoff. Na, rusty after the long down time, hit his tee shot in a creek to lose the playoff.

But that performance moved him from 70th to 40th in the world rankings, making him a late U.S. Open automatic qualifier. He has taken full advantage, as he was in second place midway through the third round Saturday at Pinehurst No. 2 before falling back into a tie for seventh.

Na has played at the Old White TPC in the 2010 and 2012 Classics, finishing seventh in the latter.

Previously announced were the commitments of world No. 3 Bubba Watson, No. 7 Jason Day, No. 31 Webb Simpson and top collegian Patrick Rodgers.

They have since been joined by World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Faldo, 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters winner Angel Cabrera, 2011 British Open champ Darren Clarke, three-time major winner Vijay Singh, two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen and 2008 Masters winner Trevor Immelman.

Immelman has played all four Classics.

Other notables:

n Oliver Goss, the Australian amateur who made the cut at the Masters;

n Ben Curtis, Troy Matteson, Jeff Overton and Carl Petterson, four of the six players who have made the cut in all four Classics. A fifth, Virginia Tech graduate Brendon de Jonge, has said he will return to Old White.

n Frederik Jacobsen and Peter Hanson, two Sweden natives who remain in the top 100. Hansen entered the 2013 Classic ranked 25th, but withdrew after three rounds and has struggled since.

The list of commitments has reached 120, not counting West Virginia Amateur winner Brian Anania. They have until June 27 at 5 p.m. to formally enter the tournament, and may with withdraw from the 156-man field at any time.

The Classic begins June 30, with competitive rounds taking place July 3-6.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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