Na’s putter keeps him in Shriners Open lead

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Normally, a score of 62 at TPC Summerlin would be cause for celebration and perhaps have you at the top of the leaderboard.

Pat Perez may still celebrate following his 9-under-par 62 Saturday in the third round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. But Kevin Na’s putter was too hot and Na did Perez one better with a sensational 10-under 61 to have a two-shot lead at 22-under going into Sunday’s final round.

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Patrick Cantalay, who began the day tied with Na for the lead, faltered late and is at 20-under after he had an 8-under 63. Perez is four shots back at 18-under.

“I putted really well today,” Na said. “I hit it closer. That’s probably why. My iron shots were a little better than yesterday and I putted great. I just kept riding that momentum with the hot putter and it was a great day.” 

Na’s domination on the greens wasn’t a one-man show. Perez’s 62 Saturday was due in a large part to his putter.

“I always think I can shoot 62 around here and I add them up and it’s 70 all the time,” Perez said. “I don’t know what the hell happened out there. 

“But you really do have to make some putts. It’s going to take another good day (Sunday) and make a lot of putts to beat everybody.”

Na is putting like a fiend. He has owned the greens from the outset and has shown no signs of cooling off. He played bogey-free Saturday and started his third round with consecutive birdies. He closed out his front nine with three straight birdies to go to 17-under, then birdied No. 10 for four in a row as he was 18-under.

But it was his finish that was impressive. With Cantlay breathing down his neck, Na finished with there straight birdies to get him to -22.

Cantlay has also putted well. He had to scramble a bit during his round, finding the sand trap on a couple of occasions. But he kept pace with Na until making bogey at the par-3 17th as he fell two shots off the pace.

“It’s a four-round tournament. It’s what I expect out here,” Cantlay said. “Everybody can shoot the lights off this place, especially with the weather is like it was today. 

“That’s the attitude for tomorrow. I know it’s going to take a lot of birdies. Fortunately, that’s an attitude I’m comfortable with and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” 

But Na is the one everyone’s chasing. They’ll have to play well to catch him, especially given the way he has been putting this week.

“I think I still got to keep the pedal to the metal,” Na said. “There’s a lot of low scores out here. Anybody can shoot 8- or 9-under. I believe there is going to be a little bit more wind tomorrow, so if that’s the case maybe you won’t see 9-, 10-unders. 

“I just got to go out there, one shot at a time, and post a good number.” 

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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