Kevin Na has big finish, wins the Sony Open

HONOLULU (AP) — The spoils at the Sony Open belonged to Kevin Na, a winner for the fourth straight season after coming from three shots behind with six holes to play for a one-shot victory with a birdie on the final hole.

The consolation prize belonged to Chris Kirk, and it felt like a win.

Kirk stepped away in May 2019 because of alcoholism and depression, a decision he feels saved himself, his family and his career. He was playing the final event of a medical extension the PGA Tour awarded him for lost time, and he delivered a 65 to finish one shot behind.

The birdie on the final hole gave him enough points to regain full status.

“It totally changes everything being able to be back to picking my schedule like I’m used to over the last number of years,” Kirk said. “To go into a week and say I’ve got to finish top three to keep going and do is silly. I’m thankful God put me in a great situation, and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Kevin Na (L) embraces caddie Kenneth Harms after winning the final round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on January 17. PHOTO: AP

Na could have felt similarly.

The Sony Open is typically so crowded at the top that no one is safe and no one is ever out of it. Na only looked to be out of it when he missed a six-foot birdie putt on the 11th and then three-putted for bogey from 40 feet on the 12th to fall three shots behind Brendan Steele.

He answered with three straight birdies, Steele faltered at Waialae for the second straight year, and Na delivered the winning shot with a five-wood from the rough that went just over the back of the green on the par-5 18th, leaving him a simple up-and-down for birdie and a five-under 65.

Kirk and Joaquin Niemann (66) finished one shot behind, and it only felt good to one of them. Niemann was runner-up for the second straight week in Hawaii. He finished the two Hawaii events at 45-under par without a trophy to show for it.

“Just another good week, so happy for that,” Niemann said. He leaves Hawaii with USD1,369,400 in earnings.

Na collected his fifth career victory on the PGA Tour. Na, who turned pro out of high school, didn’t win until his eighth season. It was seven more seasons until he won again. Now he’s up to four seasons in a row.

Na finished at 21-under 259 and is assured of returning to Hawaii for two weeks next year, starting with the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. That course can be too big for him. Waialae proved to be a perfect fit.