Why Danny Lee’s friendship with Kevin Na paid off with his big LIV golf win in Tucson

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Why Danny Lee’s friendship with Kevin Na paid off with his big LIV golf win in Tucson
Why Danny Lee’s friendship with Kevin Na paid off with his big LIV golf win in Tucson (Provided by Tennis World USA)

Between the Valspar PGA tournament and the LIV Golf Tucson last Sunday, the renegade team golf event ended up with the more exciting conclusion, with Danny Lee holing out during a dramatic four-man, then three-man playoff.

Watching his jubilant reaction to one of the biggest finishes of his career said everything about what the long-awaited victory meant to him.

It had been almost eight years since his last win on the PGA Tour, the Greenbrier Classic, which he also won in a four-man playoff in 2015.

The thrilling way he won with a 25 ft skillful shot off the pin into the hole resulted in an ecstatic celebration, most notably by his Iron Heads teammates, perhaps a sign that the team aspect of the league is catching on.

Much of that had to do with team captain, Kevin Na, who was 32-year-old Lee’s biggest cheerleader throughout the event.

“It was a life-changing decision,” Danny Lee said about switching to LIV, according to the New Zealand Herald.

“To be honest, I wasn’t getting what everybody [was getting]. Like everybody is getting like $100 million, $50 million, $30 million. I wasn’t in that situation. Kevin just called me, ‘hey, do you want to come over and play for my team?’ “I thought about it, and I looked at the schedule.

There’s three events I really like. Tucson wasn’t in my head, but Mayakoba, I always played well there, Greenbrier, I won there, and then Singapore, Sentosa, which we’re going to come back to, I have played well there before”.

Danny Lee was ranked No. 267 at the time he signed with LIV in February.
“Kevin just told me that ‘I know you’re working hard;’ he could see that my game is so close to being great, but he told me that this environment of LIV Golf is probably better for me than staying out on the PGA Tour.

“The reason he told me that was probably I tend to play too many weeks in a row, and ... you can’t play great every single round. You’re going to have one bad round. On a fourth or fifth week in a row and when you have a really, really bad first round, sometimes it’s really mentally hard to grind it out for that second round to make the cut.

“That kind of stuff was a little different, but here you only have 14 events. You’ve got to make most of it, and I don’t want to let anybody down on my team”.

The New Zealand native’s heartfelt win certainly offered a contrasting viewpoint to the criticism the controversial golfing league has faced since its inception.

Even the hardest critic couldn’t argue with Lee’s humble, yet emotionally satisfying vindication. "I haven't won since 2015. I thought winning just not my thing. Today has changed that," said Lee afterwards. "It's good to see I'm capable of playing good golf again," he continued.

“It’s a little different than what I grew up playing in, but I love it out here.

It’s awesome”. Danny Lee’s experience with LIV has already culminated in greater success for the golfer—alongside the team atmosphere—proving that the move to the Saudi-backed tour has been the right fit for some. Next up for LIV Golf will be the tournament in Orlando, starting March 31.

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