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IN BRIEF / Southland

Golfer Dropping Out of High School for Pros

July 20, 2001|Brian Robin

Kevin Na said he is dropping out of Diamond Bar High to pursue a professional golf career.

Na, 17, said he will forego his senior year and turn professional after the U.S. Amateur in August. He hasn't qualified for the event, but a victory in next week's U.S. Junior Amateur in San Antonio or a qualifying score at Monday's sectional qualifying at Western Hills Country Club would give him a berth.

Na is the second-ranked junior golfer in the country, according to Golfweek magazine. He reached the round of 16 at last year's Junior Amateur.

Na said he will likely pursue a general equivalency diploma after he attends the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School at La Purisma Golf Club in October.

He will play two professional tournaments in his native South Korea in the fall. If he fails to navigate the three stages of qualifying school, he will play Tour Monday qualifiers.

"That's what I chose to do, no matter what other people say," Na said. "Other people have their own opinions, but my parents and I believe this is the best route for me to take.

"I played in the Buick [Invitational] and I can play with these guys. That was four months ago and I've gotten a lot better."

At the Buick, Na shot 75-70 and missed the cut, a fact that doesn't detract from how he qualified for the tournament. Na shot 66 in a Monday qualifier, then birdied the first playoff hole to land one of the two spots in the field.

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