What they said: Matt KucharAugust 29, 2010
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: The Barclays transcript archive
THE MODERATOR: Let's welcome Matt Kuchar the 2010 Barclays champion. You've been knocking on the door all season. Heck of a place to get your first win of the year.
MATT KUCHAR: It's been an awesome year. I've been so happy with my performance this year. And I knew it was a matter of time. It was one of those things that I knew if I put myself in contention enough times I was going to break through. And I'm awfully excited to have it here at the Barclays Classic. It's a great place, the start of our FedEx Playoffs. I don't know if I would put many events much higher on the list.
Q. Could you talk about the shot to the playoff hole from the left rough, club you used, your thought process, what you were trying to do, and what you thought about as the ball slingshots off the back of the green down toward the hole??
MATT KUCHAR: 166 front, 192 to the pin. And I was in between a 6 and a 7. I knew I had to keep it low under some limbs, and just kind of chase it up and run it on. I saw Martin play his 72nd hole and it looked like he a similar shot. Looked like he was in the left rough, looked like he chased one up to the back. I was basically trying to hit a similar shot. I was looking to have it just land 15 yards short of the green, start chasing up. And I went with a 7-iron, the lie was pretty good. I was kind of deep enough in the rough that it ended up being a pretty good lie. And the shot came out beautifully. I ran up to that back right bank and saw the crowd just all of a sudden, the momentum build and they went just like a wave of people standing up and cheering. I knew it was getting good. That was an exciting way to kind of cap off this tournament.
Q. Even though you've had such a great year, a lot of obviously high finishes, is there something about winning that legitimizes the year and makes you feel like, okay, it's not just a bunch of top 10s I can win out here and that's important??
MATT KUCHAR: I would have shut down the year had I not won and been very pleased with my year. To win, it's an incredible year. There's nothing like the feeling of winning a PGA TOUR golf tournament. You feel like you are the best player in the world for this week. I mean, it's just an amazing feeling to think there's 125 of the best players in the world started this week and I came out first. And it's an amazing feeling and one I'm awfully proud of.
Q. Just to follow up, we've had a lot of guys this year coming in with three, four-shot leads on Sundays haven't been able to close the deal. Do you feel that when you're playing out there today, did you feel that not to give up and play, keep going and keep going, because you never know what was going to happen with the guys ahead of you??
MATT KUCHAR: My strategy was to stay aggressive out there. It was definitely trying to make birdies. The course was really hard. Once I made I think three birdies and got off to 10-under and saw I was close to the lead, I did say, if I can keep going, I know there are bogeys out here. I know that there's a lot of potential for bogeys. The greens were so firm and so fast today. It was just completely different. It was amazing the transformation they made in a matter of a day. So it was hard to get balls close. It was hard to make putts. Just the greens were so firm and fast and almost crusty on top that I knew if I could hang in there, make a few more birdies I had a chance because there was potential to move backwards.
Q. Good win. When he reaches the green in 2 and needs the 2-putt from 23 feet, are you untying your shoes, what's going on with you there??
MATT KUCHAR: Not a chance, not with 18 being the last hole. I saw him put it right on the front edge. I knew it was a tough 2-putt up a ridge and down the hill to the hole. I saw my playing partner, John Senden, had a similar shot that he ran six feet by. And I heard somebody in the gallery say, man, everybody all day is just charging it way by. I think it was a tough one to get the speed right. And Martin charged it by. He put a beautiful stroke. I was in the locker room, I watched it on TV and they had a great view, and he just, he put it right in the middle, it was a fantastic putt. And I said, man, that was steady, that was solid. I'm definitely going to need some help to get in the playoff. And you don't -- I feel bad for Martin. You don't want to win with a guy 3-putting the last hole. I'm glad we got going in a playoff and I made birdie to win. It's never a scenario where you'd like to win on a bogey. But it's a nerve-racking game. I'll tell you, that 2-footer I had in the playoff, I was extremely nervous. And I just -- I could put myself in Martin's shoes having a putt to win, a 6-, 7-footer to win, it's a nerve-racking thing, but what a great experience.
Q. You got within one round of making it to East Lake last year and then had some issues at Chicago the very last day, didn't get to make it. Pretty much locked that up today. Just your thoughts on that and playing at East Lake, and I imagine you've got a few at-bats on that track over the years, home game for you there??
MATT KUCHAR: I'm excited. It's been No. 1 on my goal list of what I'd like to accomplish for my year on the PGA TOUR for a number of years. I've wanted to get to East Lake. It's a home game. It's a course I know. It would be great to have friends and family to be there. To lock it up is a great feeling. It's been a great year. But I knew even when I was coming in 9th into here, I knew there was potential to drop out. With five times the amount of points, I knew I had to keep playing. My father does some funny things and he had told me a couple of weeks ago, I think after -- I think it was after Canada, he said, "Way to go, Matt, I think you've solidified your Ryder Cup spot." I'm pretty sure I have and I played good, I had a good week. And what was the week after?
MATT KUCHAR: I think it was the week after Bridgestone. I just had basically one more event left. And he said, "All right. All right. You've solidified your spot." I said, I'm not so sure with the double points in the PGA, there are a couple guys that are pretty close that could bump me. And thankfully I had a great week, because I had not solidified my Ryder Cup spot. Thankfully I had a good week at the PGA. He told me a week or so ago, he says, "So I've done the math and I think you've locked up your spot at East Lake." I said, "I'm pretty sure you haven't done the math, dad." (Laughter).
Q. Is that the first time your dad has been overly excited for you? (Laughter)?
MATT KUCHAR: No. But now I think he could say, "Matt, I've done the math and you're going to be at East Lake." I'd say, "Thanks, pop."
Q. Just wondering, if you had to vote for Player of the Year right now, who is your pick?
MATT KUCHAR: You'd have to show me a list. I'm glad I don't have a vote for that. I'm glad I don't. There's been a lot of great performances. I'm not even going to try to think about it.
Q. You've gotta vote at some point. The players vote for it. MATT KUCHAR: I normally pass that aside. I try not to think about that. I let my wife or somebody else handle that for me.
Q. Obviously you're a candidate, though. You probably played as well as any regular on the PGA TOUR this year. Are you looking at that as --
MATT KUCHAR: I still try to be humble. That's a topic that I'd like to be as humble as I could be over.
Q. Can you just expand a little bit about just the honor and the difficulty of winning a tournament out here. How do you hang in there when it takes you seven years to get another win if you've won one??
MATT KUCHAR: I love the game. I love playing golf. I love practicing. I love everything about it. I love having chances. And even when the chances don't go your way, I think it makes you tougher, makes you stronger. If you don't get beaten up by it, if you keep on stepping forward, all those close calls, they're going to make you better for opportunities in the future. It's fun. I have a great time out here. I have my family traveling. I've got a great family. I enjoy life as a professional golfer. I think it's a great life. It's a great way to make a living. And I feel awfully fortunate.
Q. Even though you played so consistent this year, what kind of shot of confidence does this give you with not only the rest of the playoff events but the Ryder Cup, is it important to win going into the Ryder Cup??
MATT KUCHAR: I think there's nothing better for confidence than winning. After all my wins you just feel like you're on top of the world. I know that always doesn't last too long. Next week is a brand week. Fortunately I have an extra day to kind of celebrate. I'm looking forward to that. This is good timing for me. But next week's a new week, but there's really nothing like confidence or nothing like winning to build your confidence. So I'm excited to have been in this position. I was talking to Mark, the rules official, driving me out to 18 tee for the playoff. And we were driving down, the crowd was just really excited for this playoff, chanting out. And had a really neat atmosphere and neat feeling. I told him, this is great prep for the Ryder Cup. I'm in a match play situation, I've got a playoff and I've got people going crazy. It was definitely an exciting finish.
Q. Played a European??
MATT KUCHAR: Playing a European. People cheering out "U-S-A." Definitely had some of that feeling. Hopefully I'll be able to put that in the memory bank and go with it come Ryder Cup time.
Q. I don't mean to make light of this but have you ever seen a piece of crystal that big before??
MATT KUCHAR: No, I held it out for 30 minutes doing photos and I had to put it down a couple times. It's a massive, massive piece. I'm excited to be bringing it home. I'm hoping they'll ship it home. I don't want to carry this thing home.
Q. Did you hear about Monte's picks??
MATT KUCHAR: I did. I did. I heard Padraig Harrington, I heard Luke Donald and Molinari. That's amazing. I was talking to my caddie about the Molinari brothers, the only other brothers that rival that are the Manning brothers, Eli and Peyton. They might have one-up. But how impressive with the Molinari brothers who have done it. It's great. And we talked about what a tough decision for Colin Montgomerie. He left out some great players, Justin Rose rand Paul Casey, being left out. It's hard to believe. It's a strong team they put together and a tough pick for him.
Q. What did you find most challenging about the course and how did you manage to overcome it??
MATT KUCHAR: I think it was just a really great driving test. And I drove the ball well. I drove the ball very well. The rough was penalizing the trees. If you weren't driving it well, you were going to be penalized. And fortunately I drove it very well this week. I think that was probably my strength. The strength of my game was finding a lot of fairways this week.
Q. Not to put too fine a point on it, but from 23 feet, and you know he's got a 2-putt, were you seriously -- were you thinking, "I've still got a chance"? Only because why? You saw Senden run his by?
MATT KUCHAR: I saw Senden run his by on 17, ran his by on 17 just like Martin did. I knew I had a chance of Martin only making par on 17, I thought was probably my best chance. And once he hit that great shot just to the back fringe on 18, I was pretty much shutting down my practice session. I went over and just was a spectator thinking that he's got this wrapped up. But the greens were tough. I give him credit that he didn't leave it six feet short. Seems like a lot of guys under immense amount of pressure were coming up short. And he was getting them to the hole. I don't think he was necessarily saying, I've got -- it wasn't a "gotta make" situation but he was still getting it to the hole you don't want to come up six feet short in that situation. I just stopped my practice session and was basically ready to go over and shake his hand.
Q. Have you in your career been in that situation where you've had two putts to win and can you talk about maybe is that any different psychologically than "I must make this putt"??
MATT KUCHAR: The Honda Classic was close. There were guys behind me. I wasn't in the last group. But I think I had a one -- maybe I had a two-shot lead at Honda and I had about a 10-footer for par that I felt like I had to make. I felt guys behind me could make birdies. I felt like it was a must-make. But also if I didn't make it I still had a one-shot lead. It was kind of in between. So I've not been in that exact situation that Martin was in. Not had a 20-footer just 2-putt. It was one of those things you can say over and over, it's a difficult task. It sounds easy and it's just not easy.
Q. What's your drink of choice and what's going to be in the crystal this evening?
MATT KUCHAR: I can't fill anything in that crystal. That's got to be a Double Magnum or Jerry bomb (sic) worth of wine. Yeah, drink of choice is -- my sister's married to a married a winemaker, so I've started to learn a little more about wine and probably be -- unfortunately, ordering some more of his wine and be -- we'll have to do a lot of celebrating.
Q. Red or white??
MATT KUCHAR: He does them both. But I prefer red.
Q. You don't want to be chugging wine.
MATT KUCHAR: Don't chug it. It's sipping, but it is crystal.
Q. At the PGA I talked to your mom on the phone and didn't end up using it and she was telling me about some family retreat you went on fairly recently, I can't remember whether it was skiing --
MATT KUCHAR: We go to New Hampshire. We go to New Hampshire. I went between the Greenbriar -- Greenbriar and West Virginia and Bridgestone, I went to a family retreat. I've never missed. It's in New Hampshire, a lake in the center of New Hampshire, Newfound Lake that I never missed. This was the first year I qualified for Bridgestone. I told everybody, I'm going to have to miss it. This is going to be the first time I miss it but I've qualified for Bridgestone. I'm going to have to go. And fortunate enough to be able to get up there, Marquis Jet's been a sponsor and helped out and getting up there and over to Bridgestone and made the trip possible. And it's one of those places that I think time just really stands still there. My father worked there when he was a teenager, and you can still find his name on walls in buildings where kids who stay there called B-boys, he marked his name, he worked there, it says "Pete 1966." I can still find it. Mine's up there I think from '86, '87, '88, I spent four summers working up there. It's just a special place and a place that we kind of just all regroup and you get to be a kid again. It's really a fun retreat. It's a decompress.
Q. You've been on a crazy run every since, every week??
MATT KUCHAR: It had been. I started a five-week stretch with the British Open, British Canada, Greenbriar, still had Bridgestone and PGA to do. It was nice to get a bit of a get-away and get away from the game. It was two days. It only allowed me to play a nine-hole practice round at Bridgestone. The weather got bad I was expecting to play more of a practice round, only got nine holes in there.
Q. Name of the town??
MATT KUCHAR: Lake is Newfound Lake, Bristol; New Hampshire is the town.
Q. Martin Laird was 95 in the standings, finished second, moved up to 3, he's probably locked into East Lake as well; does that surprise you??
MATT KUCHAR: The jump in points or that he was 95?
Q. The jump from 95 all the way up to third by finishing second in this event.
MATT KUCHAR: We saw it with Heath Slocum last year. I can't remember what he started but a huge jump to second. He started right on the bubble, I think 124. So we saw it last year. You knew with five times the amount of points there's going to be some big movement. And I knew that I did not have the TOUR Championship locked up going into this week. I knew I had to play well, particularly just watching the Ryder Cup points and how much movement there was for just double points for the PGA Championship. I knew five times the points. There's a lot of movement. It's a formula. You can probably knock it and you can probably say it's great. I think there are both sides to it. And I don't know that I have a real feeling. I go play and I know that I better play well if I want to keep moving on.
Q. Do you think for most of you guys maybe you haven't understood the exact points but get a grasp now that if you finish one, two, three in any of these playoff events that it puts you places where people might not have thought you would be?
MATT KUCHAR: It's going to make a great year and a great reward going into the TOUR Championship. I think playing in a 30-man field is going to be a fantastic reward and guys like Martin Laird that look like he was not going to be a real candidate to go to the TOUR Championship is going to find his way there. I think it's a great reward, and as a playoff, you want there to be some reward for playing well. It seems like the whole idea of a playoff system is you could be great all year, but if you're not playing well in the playoffs you go home. I think the system they have is pretty good. If you played great all year, you've got -- you've got a much better chance of moving along. I think the system is actually pretty good.
Q. Have you played Celtic Manor??
MATT KUCHAR: I have not. I've not been to Wales before. I'm looking forward to the trip.
Q. There was a lot of talk this week about Tiger changing his golf swing. You went through a process with a coach. Could you talk about your process and when it really clicked and just kind of how long that actually really took for you??
MATT KUCHAR: It took me about 10 golf balls. (Laughter) 10 golf balls.
Q. It was that bad before??
MATT KUCHAR: As a professional golfer we hit the ball pretty well. We can go into some funk. But the beauty about how the instructor I found, at least, is he said, listen, if I'm plugging in the right information, it's going to work, and it may not feel just right to you at first, but if you're hitting it in the sweet spot you're going to figure out a way to make it feel good. And if he's plugging in the right information, professional golfers are not far off. We never get far off with the way we hit it. It's just finding that right key and right movement to get you back. And it may be an awkward feeling for a little bit, but I'll tell you, if it's producing good results it's going to start feeling pretty good pretty quickly. Granted my swing has changed and it has evolved, but it's that refining process more so than a huge overhaul. My swing -- I looked at photos and videos of me from '98 and playing in the Masters. And my swing was flat on the way back. And I just had -- I had to chase it down the line, high follow-through. It didn't look flat. I didn't turn my shoulders as steeply. Now that I turn my shoulders more steeply my arm plane is about the same, but my shoulders turn more steeply. It makes my arm, because it doesn't necessarily go over my right shoulder, kind of goes almost under it, it looks flatter. It is in the same plane. If I turn my shoulders flat my arm's now above my right shoulder and looks pretty reasonable. If I turn my shoulder steep, my arm is in the same plane but it's here. I've steepened my swing. Everybody thinks I've flattened -- my swing was always very shallow, and in order to try to hit more down on it we've made my shoulders turn more steep my arm's stayed the same.