What they said: Matt KucharJune 04, 2011
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: the Memorial Tournament transcript archive
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Matt Kuchar, thanks for joining us. You're with a collection of several other players tied for second right now behind Steve Stricker. He's trying to run away with it, but you certainly gave it a great run, especially on the front nine. Start with some opening comments.
MATT KUCHAR: I got off to a great start, was 6 under through 10 holes and was really playing some solid golf. Kind of disheartening, kind of stalled a little bit, hit a ball in the water on 11, was able to save par. I thought that was a great save to kind of keep the round going.
The par 5 16, I kind of made a mistake by being overly aggressive there. Kind of had my maximum distance to get to the front of the green. It was into the wind off an upslope, and I thought Stricker was far enough ahead of me, I need to still, this is a chance to be aggressive and try to get something.
But that front pin is so difficult. If you miss the green at all, you just don't really stand a chance at getting that ball up and down. It took me four to get it in the hole from missing the green. It's just a terrible place to be anywhere. You miss the green on any side on that pin, and you just can't get up and down. So that was kind of a little bit of a mistake and a bummer.
I hit two good shots into 18, went just over the green and that's a bad place to be. There's not too many good places to be on 18. Short is terrible, long is almost as bad, maybe worse. So made bogey on 18. So too bad, but still a solid round of golf today.
Q. I know you hit driver a good number of times, but you looked like you were hitting your 3 wood really good. But it seemed like you were playing a little bit conservative. Was that sort of the strategy or were you kind of playing U.S. Open style golf? I know that the conditions were really firm and it was shorter and if you hit driver it could roll out. I was wondering what your strategy was.
MATT KUCHAR: I hit probably more drivers than most guys. I don't know exactly a lot of the holes you just can't hit drivers, but I'd say I probably hit three or four more drivers than most guys out here, and it's just really what the hole gives you. I think it's not being conservative; there's just a lot of times there's not really anywhere to go with driver.
Q. Have you seen any similarities in your game and Stricker's game? Because I can see about 20.
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, yeah. I had Jim Furyk tell me a couple weeks ago after I snuck into another top 10, he says, You know, another ten more years like this and you'll be the Steve Stricker of the PGA TOUR. I said, I wouldn't mind that very much at all. Strick is just a solid golfer every week.
A couple years ago that would have been the guy that I said I'd like to play a game like he does. I'm not going to overpower courses, but Stricker seems every week to be up there, whether he's leading the tournament or seems to just always be in contention.
I think I'm of the mindset that I don't want to be a golfer that is in contention four times a year and misses ten cuts a year. I didn't want to be that guy. I wanted to be the guy that was in contention all the time, didn't miss cuts, just a steady player. And so I feel like it's a compliment to have similarities to Steve Stricker. I like his game a lot.
Q. Did you know you guys are actually one two on the cut list, too? You talk about consistency, he's first, you're second like four behind him.
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it's a guy I like being compared to Steve.
Q. I just wanted to kind of further that analogy and talk about your career arcs. You won early, then kind of had a little dip in your career and then came back. Steve has sort of done the same thing. Talk about what that's been like for you.
MATT KUCHAR: I still don't quite understand how he was voted two years in a row Comeback Player of the Year. That's pretty amazing to be two years in a row Comeback Player of the Year. I don't know if I'm glad or not to never have that title.
Certainly I'm happy to be battling him for cut streaks, for scoring I think scoring average he and I were real close last year. Those are great things to battle with and to kind of compete against each other in.
Q. Take that a step further. As you reestablished yourself and became steady and have made all these cuts, has winning a major crept into a goal situation, or is that just something you would let happen??
MATT KUCHAR: It's a goal of everybody's, always been, even when I played not this good of golf. Majors are certainly exciting, but I'll tell you, I love playing these PGA TOUR events. There's not one this is not a tune up for the U.S. Open. This is a tournament I want to win. This is not just let's see if I can get myself ready.
And you go down the line with these TOUR events, there's not one that I'd say even you look at Houston, that's not an event that I'd say this is just a tune up. I go there and I want to win it. I'd love to put my name up in those clubhouses.
I love playing the game. I love competing in these events. They all still excite me.
Q. You said that with Steve having such a large lead that it forced you to be a little more aggressive and ended up costing you a stroke or two. Now that he still has that gap is that going to force you to be more aggressive tomorrow??
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it was here a couple years ago, might have been two years ago, I was paired Sunday with Phil Mickelson, and we were fifth from the last group, but we were felt like we were close, but a long way off the lead, though. We must have been seven shots off the lead, something like that. I watched him just absolutely go for everything, and it was fun to watch. He wasn't going to be satisfied with second place. I mean, he thought he could win, and he actually got himself in contention that year. I mean, he made a boatload of birdies. It was entertaining to watch.
The 2nd hole I remember he had probably a 12 footer and was really aggressive with it, knocked it four feet by and missed it, and it was just like he was going for everything. He made a bogey there, but he made six, seven more birdies and ended up probably second or third or something that year, made a great run.
It was then it kind of opened my eyes that there are a handful of guys that that's all they care about is winning golf tournaments. And I don't know that I don't have that game that Phil Mickelson has. I can't attack everywhere. I think there's appropriate shots for situations, shots that I can pull off and shots I can't pull off.
But it was definitely something that I took something from and tried to be a little more aggressive come Sundays. When you have a chance, winning TOUR events is a big deal, and you might as well go for it.
Q. You said earlier about you did not want to be the guy contending four times and missing ten cuts. You've become the player that doesn't do that. You've made all these cuts in a row and you contend a lot. Is there one thing you point to? I know it's been a progression since that Nationwide Tour year.
MATT KUCHAR: Working with Chris O'Connell. We started at Nationwide in 2006 and he's made me a better player. It's just a lot more solid, and when we first started working together, he said he wanted to take away some of my athleticism from the game of golf, and that sounded bad how he said it. But what he meant was you've got good hands, you're able to time some things.
I want to take away timing, I want to take away the need for timing, tempo, rhythm, all this pixie dust stuff, and he wants to eliminate as much club face rotation in the swing. The less club face rotation through impact you have, the more consistent you're going to be, and he's done that with me.
You know, he's made me a better player where I can go out and if I'm not on, I kind of still know what I'm doing with it. I kind of still can find fairways, still can find greens, and short game is good enough to keep me around.
Q. The changes in your was it this off season you worked on your putting, changed your putting??
MATT KUCHAR: Beginning of this year.
Q. For the average fan, for a guy who finished No. 1 on the Money List, is one of the best putters on the TOUR, they would say why would you mess with something like that, and yet you continue to play well. Can you talk about the thinking behind why you made the changes??
MATT KUCHAR: At the end of this year, I found myself looking back, and you go, how do you improve on No. 1 on the Money List, No. 2 in FedEx, No. 1 in scoring average, and those aren't it's funny, those don't seem to be real goals, to win the Money List or win the scoring title. As a golfer you always want to improve, and the fascinating thing about the game of golf is there's a thousand areas you can get better at. Even if you are a great putter, you can always become better. There's no limit to how good your short game can be.
And then same thing with ball striking. There's so many different shots, so many different ways to improve, and I think that's the way I looked at this off season. I knew I could still get better. And then with putting, I was a good putter, and I just stumbled upon this it was during Bob Hope, stumbled upon the Stocktons, was talking to them, and they came up with this system they thought could make me a better putter.
Q. How much loft did you have, 6 percent or something, in that putter to make up for the forward press??
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah. There's, I think, 7 degrees of loft on it now. Yeah.
Q. So it's straight up and down based on the press
MATT KUCHAR: The forward lean of the putter, yeah.