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Why Kevin Na was booed on the golf course

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Why Kevin Na was booed on the golf course

From Comcast SportsNet
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Kevin Na was booed, taunted and heckled on nearly every hole. The 28-year-old South Korean native even had one spectator tell him he "better not choke" because he had money riding on him. Na dealt with it best he could, and even though he felt rushed at times, he never chastised fans at The Players Championship for his Sunday slide in the final round. He blamed himself, just as he has all week for his countless waggles and his painfully slow pace. Na closed with a 4-over 76, falling from first to a three-way tie for seventh and becoming the latest 54-hole leader to falter at the treacherous TPC Sawgrass. The third-round leader hasn't won The Players since it moved from March to May in 2007. "I deserve it," said Na, who finished at 8-under 280 -- five strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar. "I mean, I'm being honest. But is it fair? No. You put an average guy in between those ropes, trust me, they won't pull back." Na faded early, too. He bogeyed four of final five holes on the front and wasn't much better on the back. When it was clear he was out of contention, Na hurried between shots in hopes of trying not to slow down playing partner Kuchar. Some fans showed considerably less respect. "It is what it is," Na said. "I do need to work on what I need to. I do need to work on my pre-shot routine. I do need to play faster. But the average golfer has no clue how much pressure we're playing under and how tough it is and how much of a fight it is mentally. I honestly think with all that going on, I did pretty well fighting. I had a good fight. I hung in there, so you know what, I just take the positives from it." Na took hundreds of waggles as he set up over the ball, backed off the shot if he didn't feel comfortable and a couple of times purposely missed so he could start over. Long known as one of the slowest players on tour, Na attributes his bizarre routine to a swing change. Nonetheless, fans showed little compassion. Things got really ugly on the par-4 sixth. "We had a clown on the sixth hole come up and say, after we just made bogey on five, he said, I've got 2,000; you better not start choking,'" said Na's caddie, Kevin Harms. "This is a game of etiquette. It's not basketball. It's not football. Show come class. There's no reason to do that to anybody. "It's not like he's doing it on purpose. He feels more bad about it than anyone else, I can promise you that. He's doing everything he can to get faster." On the par-5 ninth, Na even backed off his tee after hearing some boos. After he pulled his tee shot in the water on the par-3 13th, some fans started singing, "Nah, nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey, hey, hey, goodbye." "You know, when I'm over the ball, it would be nice if it was quiet," Na said. "But just guys, you can hear them talking, like, Pull the trigger, pull the trigger, hit it,' which makes me back off even more. So that part was a bit tough." Kuchar said he didn't notice the taunts. "I did not hear as much as heckling," Kuchar said. "We talked a little bit about the Na last name and how many different versions he must here of nah, nah, nah, nah' or just different plays on his last name. So he said he's pretty much heard everything, had a few giggles at some." Regardless, Na plans to address his pre-shot problems in the future. But it's not likely to happen anytime soon. "I'm going to try to take out the whole waggle, no waggle," he said. "I'm going to try to do a little up and down behind the ball, but it's going to take time, practice and tournaments, and I'm going to try to take out the whole waggle. Honestly, it's going to be a battle."

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Philipp Grubauer earns his long-awaited first win of the season after another strong performance

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USA TODAY Sports

Philipp Grubauer earns his long-awaited first win of the season after another strong performance

Less than 90 seconds in, Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning very much had a feeling of déjà vu.

With Phillipp Grubauer getting the start against the best team in the league, the Caps took a penalty just 44 seconds into the game. Grubauer failed to freeze the puck on two different opportunities allowing the Lightning to keep the puck in play and score the early goal to go up 1-0.

“I thought early, they score a minute basically into the game and you're like, OK here we go,” Barry Trotz said.

“I was laughing, here I go again,” Grubauer said.

RELATED: 3 REASONS WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE LIGHTNING

Wins have been hard to come by for Grubauer this season. Coming into Fridays’ game, he had none. An early goal against a team as good as the Lightning could have been a backbreaker.

But not this time.

Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 in the first period and that’s when Grubauer took over.

“When it was 1-1, I thought Gruby made some real key saves for us,” Trotz said.

 

He added, “They were getting people to the net and they were dangerous all around. He made some real huge saves for us and we got him more than a goal.”

For the first time since Grubauer’s first start this season back on Oct. 9, the Caps gave Grubauer a lead to protect in the second period courtesy of Devante Smith-Pelly. That not only gave Grubauer confidence, it also allowed his teammates to focus more on playing well in front of him rather than taking chances in the offensive zone in search of a goal.

Bottling up a team as explosive and talented as the Lightning is not easy, but Grubauer was up to the task.

Friday’s 3-1 win was Grubauer’s first of the season. His record now sits at 1-5-1, a record his teammates know is not reflective of how well he has played for them.​

MORE CAPITALS: TARIK'S 3 STARS OF CAPS-LIGHTNING

“I know the guys are thrilled to get a win for Gruby because they know he shows up as a pro every game,” Trotz said.

That was evident after the game as Grubauer's teammates were effusive in their praise for the German netminder.

“Not an easy position to be a backup goalie and he's kept a good attitude throughout this even though we haven't played well in front of him,” Matt Niskanen said.

 

It was hard to figure out afterward just who this game meant more to, whether it was Grubauer whose family is in town for his birthday Saturday and who was in attendance Friday, or his teammates.

“My parents were here so I'm really, really proud to give them a good game and get the win for the boys,” Grubauer said.

Said Niskanen, “Everyone's smiles were a little bit bigger today for him. He played really well. He earned it.”

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Lightning

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Lightning

The Caps started a daunting back-to-back on a high note with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. Tampa scored first, but the Caps would score the next three goals to earn the win.

Here's why Washington won.

A good response to Tampa’s early goal

When Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 late in the first period, it felt inevitable. Tampa Bay took an early 1-0 lead off a power play goal by Vladislav Namestnikov. Rather than spark the Lightning, however, it seemed to wake the Caps’ up from their turkey coma. When Tampa scored, they held an early 3-0 shots-on-goal advantage over Washington. For the rest of the period, the Caps outshot the Bolts 16-4. Ovechkin was a man on a mission as he was all over the ice. In recent weeks, we have seen the Caps at times lack energy at the start of games, but their response to Tampa’s early goal was impressive.

RELATED: TARIK'S 3 STARS IN CAPS' WIN OVER BOLTS

Caps gave Philipp Grubauer a lead to protect

It's been rare this season for Grubauer to protect a lead. So rare in fact that it has not happened since his first start of the season on Oct. 9 which also came against the Lightning. When you are playing from behind, the skaters have to take more chances offensively which can sometimes leave goalies out to dry. Grubauer knows all about that from some of his recent games. When the Caps took a 2-1 lead on Friday, defense became the priority and Grubauer played with a level of confidence we have not seen since his strong performance in a 2-1 loss to Calgary.

Philipp Grubauer

While the Caps could afford to give Grubauer more defensive help as they protected the 2-1 lead, Grubauer himself made some top-notch stops to earn his first win of the season. After a shaky start in which he failed to freeze the puck on two opportunities allowing Tampa to keep the puck in play and score the power play goal, Grubauer was dominant in the crease. He made two especially key saves as he stoned Ondrej Palat in the second period on a one-timer from the slot and denied Vladislav Namestnikov in close midway through the third when a blue line shot from Anton Stralman was deflected behind the defense right to Namestnikov's stick.

MORE CAPITALS: THE CAPS' PRESENCE WAS FELT AT THE REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING GAME