What they said: Matt Kuchar

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December 02, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Matt Kuchar into the interview room, currently tied for second place after a 5-under par 67. I know a little slip-up on the last hole but overall great round of golf.

MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it was good. I've been playing well for a couple weeks now. Had it going well yesterday on a tough day, 4-under going into No. 15, a par-5, looking to take advantage, and I ended up making a triple bogey, hit my one bad drive of the day. Felt like I was playing well yesterday and ended up even par, which was an average round of golf yesterday. And today got it going again nicely, got it to 6-under, so a slip-up on 18 was a bummer. I hit a great drive and had a number I was looking to take advantage of, got a little aggressive, came up a little short and ended up making bogey. Tough way to end but still a good day.

Q. What did you hit there??

MATT KUCHAR: 9-iron, 149 to the hole.

Q. What was your schedule after you won the World Cup in China??

MATT KUCHAR: What was my schedule?

Q. Yeah, did you come straight here??

MATT KUCHAR: We had Sunday night there and Monday. We didn't have a flight until Monday evening, so spent Monday at the resort all day in the spa on Monday. The guys that hosted the event, the Chus, Tenniel Chu is his name, he took care of our spa appointments for the day. He said, what great playing, I'd like for you guys to enjoy the whole facility, so my wife and I spent the whole day at the spa. It's the first time I've ever done that. It was a great way to celebrate.

Q. What time did you leave China and when did you get here? You gained a day, of course.

MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, we had a 6:00 flight leaving the island of Hainan, connected in Guangzhou and ended up getting here about 6:30 that same Monday night.

Q. Can you give us a breakdown of the spa treatments? What exactly did you do?

MATT KUCHAR: It was a -- I started with I think it was a two-hour -- no, it was an hour and a half, they called it aromatherapy massage, and then broke for lunch. That was 10:30 until noon. We broke for lunch, and then came back at 1:00 and had a treatment that was a two?hour -- I think there was an hour sports massage, a half-hour foot rub and a half-hour facial, and then it was time to get ready for the flight.

Q. First facial??

MATT KUCHAR: First one that was actually part of -- that actually said facial. I think in massages they've massaged my face. I don't know exactly what a real facial entails, but they put whatever the mask on and cream and goop and gel and all the stuff.

Q. Is it something you'd want to do again??

MATT KUCHAR: I didn't love all the stuff on my face. I enjoy the massaging part, but all the extra stuff I could have done without. I did feel like I looked completely refreshed afterwards. I felt like I had a real shine to my face.

Q. As you're playing ?? ??

MATT KUCHAR: Do I look younger?

Q. You look great. As you're playing along nicely out there today, was there any concern at some point as you saw a leaderboard that you might become a two-man race the way Tiger and K.J. were going for a while??

MATT KUCHAR: They were going good. I saw 10-under and 8-under. I knew I was at 6-under, and I knew that wasn't out of it. I've been playing some good golf, like I said, had it going yesterday, had it going today. It's been a good stretch for me the last couple weeks, felt like I certainly could throw my hat there in the ring and then hope to try to catch them. I am still a couple shots back, but with 36 holes to play, got some time to catch up.

Q. You obviously thought well of Gary Woodland to pick him as a partner, and he did pretty well last week with you. What have you seen from him and his game? Obviously he hits it an immense length with the driver, but can you just talk about what you've seen from him and what you expect out of him going forward?

MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it was a pretty darned good pick, wasn't it? He's a fantastic player. I think he's a guy that -- I don't think there's enough known about him in the press amongst regular golf fans. I think the guys that are out here playing know that he's a tremendous talent and he's going to be a great player and a great player for years to come. He was a guy that I knew was going to be a big help and a big asset going over there and playing in the World Cup. I had a couple guys in my head that I was thinking about for potential partners, looked at the course, and the general idea you're looking for with that event is who am I going to have a good time with for six days, and who do I think gives me a real shot at winning, as well.

So there were a couple names, and when I looked at the course setup, Gary Woodland came to the top of the list. This was a guy I knew I was going to have a good time with and a guy I knew was going to give us a real shot at winning the thing.

Q. Where would you rank those two weeks in your career, Presidents Cup and winning in China??

MATT KUCHAR: Well, last year I got to play in the Ryder Cup, my first team event I qualified for and made that, and I knew from then on I didn't want to miss another team competition. That was my first experience. I knew I didn't want to miss another one of those. I looked forward to 2011, saw The Presidents Cup was going to be in Australia, Fred Couples was the captain. That was one that going in, I thought, I don't want to miss that opportunity. And then once I found out about the World Cup, saw where I stood -- I was for a long time the third American in the World Rankings. Steve Stricker was leading the American list followed by Phil Mickelson, and I kind of knew in my head that those guys weren't going to select the bid to play in the World Cup, and that was something I was real excited about getting that opportunity.

After the British Open I think was the deadline. Dustin Johnson had a great British Open, he just jumped ahead of me. I was a little bit nervous that he was going to accept the invitation and that I'd have to be lobbying to be picked. He declined, and so I got the invitation. It was just really excited to be a part of that.

So the two ranked really highly. Representing your country is really an amazing deal for a thing like the Presidents Cup and then to be one of two guys to represent the U.S. in the World Cup is a great honor.

Q. Where does an event like this rank after playing in obviously a Presidents Cup and representing the U.S. two straight weeks? How do you kind of refocus for this?

MATT KUCHAR: I think it helps to be on good form and ready. Last year I came here and I was looking at my off-season and my schedule leading up in January playing, at Kapalua playing, and the Sony, and knowing I had a great 2010 and wanted to come back with another great 2011 and how to be best prepared. To me it meant taking October and November off and then getting back ready in December. So I took October and November off, I came here without playing at all, and I finished last. It was basically what I expected, and I used -- I looked at December like a spring training for me. December was my time to slowly get back into it so that come January I'm ready to play. I didn't want to be peaking last year right now. I wanted to be peaking in January and February and have it really working up towards the Masters in April.

Well, this year I'm coming off of Australian Open, Presidents Cup, World Cup. I knew I'd be in good form. I was looking forward to rebounding from last year's performance and playing the golf that I'm used to, it's just the schedule this week I think falls -- for a typical year falls at a tough time in my off-season where I'm just going to be kind of knocking the rust off again. Right now I feel like the rust is off and I'm playing some good golf.

Q. You mentioned at the PGA a couple years ago, you had that great amateur career and then you sort of struggled, and now everything is coming to fruition. Is it like, hey, this is the way it should have been, or you can appreciate it more because it took you a while to get there??

MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, after the amateur days, I thought I'd come out and have multiple wins within the first few years and be contending in majors. I got out my first year, got a win at the Honda Classic and I thought I was on the right track, and I ran into a bit of a slowdown in my play and performance, and fortunately hooked up with a guy Chris O'Connell in 2006 when I was back on the Nationwide Tour, and Chris has been my instructor, and he's made me a better player every year we've been together. I feel like we're continuing on the right track. He's been just a huge help. Hooking up with him has made my life a whole lot easier, making cut after cut, being in contention, and a lot easier than hoping guys play bad and you sneak in and make the cut. You don't have to pack up your bags Friday afternoon. It's not a fun deal when you're a professional golfer; packing up your bags Friday afternoon stinks. He's certainly been a big help, and I think that's been a big reason for my resurgence.

Q. Not sure how much you've actually got to see Tiger play these last few weeks. I knew you were with him in Australia the two weeks and now this week, but can you get a sense for the way he's turning his game around here lately??

MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, I played a practice round at the Australian Open. I think it was Steve Stricker, Tiger, myself, Dustin Johnson, and Tiger was -- I was impressed with how well he was keeping up with Dustin off the tee. He seemed to have refound the length again. It seemed for a while the driver had lost distance and accuracy, he seemed to be struggling with that, and I was surprised the last year or two how much distance he seemed to have lost. He was kind of keeping up right with Dustin Johnson, which was pretty impressive in the practice round. So it looked like he was playing some good golf, found the length again and looking really solid. Fun to see him regaining form again. He's so exciting, exciting to watch and exciting for the game of golf. There just seems to be a lot of excitement around him. Fun to watch and fun to be a part of this time right now.

I always thought as a player if you had a chance, if you had that opportunity, and you want to test yourself against the very best, and it seemed like, man, if you could go toe to toe with Tiger Woods and have a chance to beat him, that's a real feather in your cap. And you want his best. You don't want to see him struggling and missing cuts. That's no fun to say I beat Tiger Woods, he missed the cut and I had a 15th place finish. You want him at his best going toe to toe coming down to the wire, and it's fun to see him at that point.

Q. Can you talk about the wind today and compare it to yesterday and how that looked??

MATT KUCHAR: Yesterday started out pretty still, similar to today. I think on my seventh hole it started to really whip around. It's hard to figure out exactly where it's coming from. It seems to do a lot of moving around in this valley here between the hills and mountains. So there's a bit of a guessing game today. Felt similar, felt pretty still, and then seemed like on our back nine it started picking up a good bit, again, was a bit of a guessing game, out of a different direction today, and it seemed like -- at some point, we were on the 15th hole and that's a tricky tee shot. There was a flag clearly up on one of the cranes with the cameras, and while I hit it was straight right?to?left. That's what the wind was doing all day. When Hunter got up to hit, it had come straight right back in his face, and it's an important shot, and you can let a lot of shots slip there if you don't get the right club, and he had to go back and forth on a club a couple times just watching the wind flip around. When it does blow, it's tricky.

Q. So much is made, and we do it writing about Tiger and TV on Tiger and Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. As a guy who is a good golfer and up in the top, do you think we, being the media, over the years, have made too much of Tiger? Do you think golf needs Tiger? I know the TOUR is trying to push other people up to the top, and yet I think they have to sort of invent themselves. You can't force them up there. I just wonder as another star player how you view this.

MATT KUCHAR: Well, I think it's because Tiger has the best agent in the game. We all know about Tiger Woods because of Mark Steinberg. That's pretty much why I jumped over, I was hoping to get a little bit of that same love (laughing).

So I think a lot of all the hype is due to Mark Steinberg and his great work he does. But he's fantastic for the game. He has that appeal to everybody. He's brought so much more attention. People that generally wouldn't be interested in the game of golf are interested because of Tiger Woods. So he's exciting.

JOHN BUSH: Thanks, Matt. Appreciate it.

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