Apr
21
2014
VIDEO: Finally, Kuchar’s time
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
On Sunday at the RBC Heritage, Matt Kuchar was in contention for the fourth week in a row. At the Valero Texas Open, he held the lead going into the final nine holes, but couldn’t close the deal. At the Shell Houston Open, he knocked it in the water on the 18th in regulation, and then Matt Jones chipped in during the first playoff hole. At the Masters, he was tied for the lead early on Sunday until he four-putted the fourth hole and fizzled away. 
In other words, it hadn’t been Kuchar’s time for the prior three consecutive weeks. Well, finally, it was his turn to shine in Hilton Head.Kuchar, who teed off five groups behind the final pairing, got off to a hot start to catch the leaders, but he simmered down on the back nine. After he three-putted from four feet on no. 17, it looked like he might have made a game-changing — not to mention cringeworthy —  mistake.

“I was in a little bit of shock,” said Kuchar in his post-round presser. “But I think I did a good job of shaking things off.

“I think I do a great job of accepting there’s not much I can do about that, because it’s now behind me.  And I think when I missed it, I figured now I have to go tap this one in for bogey, tap that one in for bogey…I have to now go play the 18th hole.”

Then, he found himself in the front greenside bunker on no. 18. He desperately needed some magic to happen. And that’s exactly what transpired. Kuchar, who started the day trailing the leaders by four, holed out for birdie to post a seven-under 64, 11-under total, which turned out to be just one shot good enough for the win.

“I hit the (bunker) shot that I wanted to,” said Kuchar. “I went up and took a good read, knew it would release and break right to left.  Played it just right of the hole. Watched it roll. I heard the crowd go crazy when the thing disappeared.  I went crazy myself.  It was just an incredible feeling.”

Luke Donald, who played in the last group, had his moments with five birdies on Sunday, but they were offset by hitting it out-of-bounds that led to a double-bogey on no. 6 and dunking one in the water on no. 10 that resulted in a bogey. He rallied back to roll in birdies on nos. 11 and 12, but after that, he couldn’t manage to give himself enough good looks and came up just short of forcing a playoff with Kuchar.

“Finishing second isn’t what I was hoping for,” said Donald, who shot a final-round, two-under. “Disappointed, obviously, not to have won. Usually a solid 69 on a windy day with a two-shot lead is enough to get it done on Sundays. It’s tough to win out here and hats off to Matt for a superb round.”

Kuchar reflected on his last four weeks and finally tasting the sweet, sweet, joy that comes with a victory.

“It really feels awfully good,” he said. “I thought Houston I was in control, I thought that was a tournament I was going to win.  But that didn’t work out.  I played some really good golf at Augusta last week, and I thought this is where it’s supposed to work out.

“It’s awfully sweet to have a chance.  I kept wanting after things didn’t work out in San Antonio, just give me another chance.  Give me another chance.  And amazing to have four straight weeks of chances on four completely different golf courses.

“I take a lot of pride in playing good week in and week out.  This has been some excellent play.  I’m amazed at the difference from just last week to this week.  I mean, completely different golf courses.  And to have chances Sunday afternoon basically four weeks in a row has been great.”

That’s why he’s the top-10 machine and *always* good to have on your fantasy golf squad. You know, in case you’re into that kind of thing.

Oh, yeah, Kuchar believes there’s a higher power out there and they’ll eventually throw you a bone.

“I always believe in a golfing God,” he said. “I always believe that if I keep plugging away, things are going to go my way.  You get some good breaks, you get some bad breaks.  But as long as you accept it, and look forward to whatever is next, I think things tend to go your way.”

Amen.