IRON HEADS HOPE TO CAPITALIZE ON NA’S LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
LAS VEGAS – With Captain Kevin Na and Danny Lee both residents of the city, LIV Golf Las Vegas is almost like a home game for Iron Heads GC and the team is hoping local knowledge of Las Vegas Country Club (LVCC) will help them finish on a high this week.
Na has been a long-time resident of Las Vegas, and Lee moved from Dallas and joined him here a couple of years ago. The duo is a regular at the LVCC and has a deep knowledge of what is required to do well at the Edmond Ault-designed course.
“I’m really excited to be in Vegas. It’s special when you play at home and you have all your friends and family come out and watch and support you,” said Na, winner of two of his five PGA Tour titles in the city, including his maiden title in the 2011 Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.
“Danny and I play this golf course quite a bit with some of the local pros in town. We’ve had some good matches and we enjoy playing here. I think it’s a great golf club with a lot of history. We’re excited that LIV is here and giving back to local communities, and we are looking forward to a good week.”
Like last year, the Iron Heads did not have the best start to the season in Mayakoba. However, they bounced back in the second event of 2023 – Lee winning the individual title at Tulsa and a podium finish for the team. And Na and his teammates are confident something similar can happen in Vegas.
“It suits our team very well. I think it’s very similar to courses in Japan. It’s very tree-lined, narrow fairways, and no out-of-bounds or hazards like last week,” said Lee, who played the second half of the 2023 season with two chipped bones in his right wrist that required surgery as soon as he finished the Team Championship in Miami.
Scott Vincent, whose preparation in Mayakoba had to be halted when he rushed to be alongside his wife in Denver for a couple of days for the birth of their second child Judah, agreed with Lee.
“I got to play nine holes yesterday, but I also came out about a month ago and just had a look at the course and everything. It’s looking awesome,” said the Zimbabwean, who is paired for the opening round with his younger brother, Kieran of Legion XIII.
“It’s exactly what Lee said. I like our team’s lineup here. These are some of the best wedge players next to me and I like their chances.”
Na was the best-placed in his team in Mayakoba with three successive rounds of 70 to finish tied 17th, and he exuded confidence he’d do much better than that in home conditions.
Asked if it could be his week, the 40-year-old said: “I think so. My record has been really good at home. Something about being comfortable. I’ve played this golf course quite a bit and I think it fits my style of game.
“I felt decent last week. An average week, but I felt like my game was better than how I finished, so I'm looking forward to a great week here.”
Japan’s Jinichiro Kozuma, who got off to a triple-bogey start on Friday, said he felt nervous at the start of his season debut after becoming one of three players to qualify from the inaugural Promotions event in Abu Dhabi.
“Last week was the first week on LIV, and I was very nervous. But the team supported me and I felt really welcomed, especially by Kevin Na. I feel more comfortable. I was able to blend into the team really easily. Hopefully, I can play really well and get to the top and maybe win.,” said Kozuma.
Na has been paired with Smash’s Graeme McDowell and Ripper’s Marc Leishman and will start his campaign from the sixth tee on Thursday.