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Yips rears its ugly head in Kavin Na's game at The Players Championship

Don't let this game of golf fool you.

In all of that overwhelming beauty, in the fascination of what someone called the pursuit of infinity, in the sound and the feel of a shot well struck, in the tea sing roll of a long putt, in the soft whispers of history there is tucked away a ruthless mean streak as wicked as a duck hook.

It surfaces here and there in various forms, like bad bounces, impossible lies and the dreadful thing that attacked Kevin Na at the Players Championship last weekend, the inability to pull the trigger when it's time to pull it.

Na would stand over the shot, waggle his driver, waggle it again and again and again, seven, eight, nine times or more before he finally hit.

He wasn't willingly playing slow golf. He was just a victim of a mysterious affliction. It's far more common in putting than in driving but they share the name, the ugly name - yips.

Hank Haney, one of the world's most renowned golf tutors, suffered driver yips for many years. Those yips drove Ian Baker Finch out of tournament golf. And there are many other examples of how the affliction has shown itself at the highest level of golf.

But touring pros don't have a patent on yips. Your garden variety golfer can get them, too. A friend of mine does what Na does - starts the backswing, stops, starts over, sometimes to the extent that he just walks away, fusses at whatever it is that is gripping him, then starts the whole process over.

He's sought help from teaching pros and a hypnotist but any fix he got was temporary. He lives with it, still enjoys playing and holds out hope that tomorrow will be better.

Na acknowledges how his problem slows him down and how it might bother an onlooker who doesn't understand what's going on.

"Trust me," he told the Associated Press, "I get ripped a lot. I know TV, Twitter and fans are tired of me backing off. I understand people being frustrated with me backing off but all I can tell you guys is honestly, I'm trying. And it's hard for me, too."

With all that, Na still finished tied for seventh in the Players Championship, which is nothing to shake a driver at.

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