Golf

Kevin Na pips Joaquin Niemann and Chris Kirk to Sony Open victory

Kevin Na birdied four of his last six holes to snatch a one-shot victory and fifth PGA Tour title at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

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Sony Open in Hawaii

The 37-year-old’s fast finish saw him close out a five-under 65 on a thrilling Sunday at Waialae Country Club, with a final-hole birdie enough to take him to 21 under and edge ahead of Chris Kirk and Joaquin Niemann.

Na walked in a 15-foot birdie at the second and got up and down from a greenside bunker to pick up a shot at the par-five ninth, only to miss from six feet at the 11th and three-putt from 40 feet at the next to fall three behind with six holes to play.

A superb approach from the thick rough at the 13th set up a 15-foot birdie for Na and the first of three consecutive gains, before a tap-in at the par-five last secured him a first win since October 2019.

“Waialae is a golf course I really have a chance at, and there’s not too many of these left anymore, so I have to take advantage of it,” Na said. “What a great feeling to win at a golf course I really feel like I can win at.”

Niemann – runner-up at last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions – was level-par at the turn before driving the green on the 355-yard 10th hole and making a two-putt birdie, with the Chilean then adding another from five feet at the par-four 12th.

A chip-in from the fringe at the 17th lifted Niemann back one of the lead heading to the final hole, where a splash-out from the sand to 10 feet saw him match Na’s closing birdie and finish just short for the second event running.

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January 18, 2021, 7:00pm

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Kirk – playing the final event of his medical extension – had set the clubhouse target on 20 under after recovering from two early bogeys to register his fourth round of 65 in as many days, with a tied-second finish enough to reclaim his full playing privileges on the PGA Tour.

The 35-year-old, who took an extended absence from the PGA Tour in 2019 to address problems with alcoholism and depression, made three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the sixth and added three straight gains from the 12th before signing off his week with a closing birdie.

Last year’s runner-up and overnight leader Brendan Steele held a three-shot lead after a 20-foot eagle at the ninth, only to three-putt 10th and fail to get up and down to save par at the 14th.

Steele was unable to register a birdie on the back nine and ended two strokes back in a share of fourth alongside Webb Simpson and Marc Leishman, with world No 5 Collin Morikawa a further shot adrift on 18 under after a six-under 64 lifted him into tied-seventh.

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