Matt Kuchar reflects on his first round with Bill Rosinski from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- As much as Matt Kuchar loves Colonial -- "One of my favorite courses on the PGA TOUR," he says -- his results haven't been particularly impressive.
Although Kuchar has made every cut in six previous starts at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, his only top-10 finish was a ninth in 2008. Consider this: Between 2010-12, Kuchar posted top-10 finishes in 40 percent of his starts, but he's 0-for-3 at this tournament.
"I probably haven't been quite as sharp as I would like to be around this time," Kuchar explained. "I'd say this year I feel a lot sharper."
He certainly looked a lot sharper in Thursday's first round, shooting a 5-under 65 -- his lowest opening round at Colonial by three strokes.
Starting his round off the 10th tee, Kuchar credited his opening tee shot to setting the tone. Instead of pulling a hybrid as he normally does on the hole, he opted for a 3-wood, an aggressive play that paid off when he found the fairway and needed only a pitching wedge from 127 yards.
His approach landed inside 7 feet, and he drained the birdie for a quick start.
"There was some good momentum going after hitting a couple of good shots and getting off to a birdie on my first hole," Kuchar said.
IRVING, Texas -- Matt Kuchar sank a 17-foot eagle putt on the par-5 7th hole during Friday's second round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Kuchar made the turn on Friday 1 under on his round and 2 under for the tournament.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The jinx continues. No PLAYERS champion has successfully defended his title.
Matt Kuchar had the most recent opportunity but he closed with a 76 that included a 41 on the back nine and left him at even par for the tournament. He gave five strokes back on the final two holes -- hitting his tee shots at the 17th and 18th into the water on the way to a double bogey-triple bogey finish.
Kuchar was challenging at the midway point of his title defense, using a 66 to move to 7 under and just four shots off the lead. But rounds of 75-76 on the weekend sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The final pairing of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia tees off at 2:40 p.m. on Saturday. Here's a closer look at each of them, plus who and what else to watch for this afternoon at TPC Sawgrass.
Webb Simpson (1:30 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion seemed to turn the corner at Hilton Head, where he finished second after losing in a playoff. This week, he's third in fairways hit and enters Saturday five back.
Jason Dufner (1:30 p..m ET): He had six birdies and just one bogey in the second round and is one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He also finished sixth here two years ago.
Zach Johnson (1:50 p.m. ET): The last four finishes for Johnson here: T32, T22, T12, T2. See the trend? A couple late bogeys on Friday hurt, but Johnson is still in the mix four back.
Adam Scott (1:50 p.m. ET): Playing for the first time since his Masters victory, Scott is in position to go after his second PLAYERS title (he won here in 2004). He's just four shots back.
Hunter Mahan (2 p.m. ET): After struggling in his last few starts, Mahan has turned it around here, hitting 75 percent of his greens in regulation.
Matt Kuchar (2 p.m. ET): No player has ever won this tournament two years in a row. After a 66 Friday, Kuchar has a chance and enters the third round just four shots back.
Ryan Palmer (2:20 p.m. ET): The Texan is playing with a heavy heart after a longtime friend was killed in a car accident Thursday night. He's wearing the initials "CA" on his hat in honor of him.
Henrik Stenson (2:20 p.m. ET): The 2009 champion is in contention again after making two eagles in the second round (on the par-5 second and ninth holes). When he won here four years ago, he shot a final-round 66.
Lee Westwood (2:30 p.m. ET): The Englishman has finished fourth, fifth and sixth here. All that's missing is a win. He's the only player without a bogey through the first two rounds.
Tiger Woods (2:40 p.m. ET): It's been a dozen years since Woods has won here, but he said all facets of his game are clicking right now and it's showed so far with his best 36-hole start in his history here.
Sergio Garcia (2:40 p.m. ET): Like Woods, Garcia has won here before (in 2008), but he's struggled at times playing alongside the world No. 1 with five his last six rounds in the 70s when the two have been paired.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No defending champion has ever successfully defended at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Matt Kuchar will have a chance to change that this weekend. He shot 66 Friday to get to 7 under at TPC Sawgrass, where he's four strokes off the lead.
"You've just got to be playing good golf, whether it's past champions or not," Kuchar said. "Course knowledge only helps when you're playing good golf."
Kuchar did that Friday, making seven birdies and just one bogey while taking just 25 putts.
Added Kuchar: "I think past champions always have a good feeling around a course they've won on, and that certainly helps out."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No one has ever successfully defended at THE PLAYERS Championship, where Matt Kuchar will begin his quest to become the first to do so this afternoon.
With pristine conditions -- sunny skies, hardly a breath of wind -- scoring has been good so far in the opening round at TPC Sawgrass. Will it continue? Here is a look at who and what to watch for this afternoon.
Lee Westwood (1:18 p.m. ET): The Englishman has knocked on the door a few times here -- most recently in 2010 when he was in contention going into Sunday before shooting 74 to finish fourth. He also finished fifth and sixth in 1998 and 1999 and given his ball-striking abilities should be a factor again.
Phil Mickelson (1:28 p.m. ET): As difficult as this tournament -- or Mickelson -- is to predict, Lefty has been largely consistent if nothing else since his win here in 2007. He's finished in the top 25 every other year the last five and for his career has eight top 25s in the event.
Webb Simpson (1:28 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion admitted to a lack of confidence earlier this season. Then he finished second at Hilton Head, where he lost in a playoff. He's missed three of four cuts here, however.
Sergio Garcia (1:39 p.m. ET): The 2008 champion (he also finished second the year before) has just one finish in the top 20 since, but he has played well this year with three top 10s. His ball-striking should work well here, but with Garcia it all comes down to how well he putts.
Luke Donald (1:39 p.m. ET): The former world No. 1 finished sixth last year and tied for fourth the year before with all of last last eight rounds and 11 of his last 12 on the Stadium Course at par or better.
Tiger Woods (1:49 p.m. ET): For all his accomplishments, Woods has won THE PLAYERS just once, in 2001. Though he has three wins this season, he has just one top 10 here since that lone victory a dozen years ago.
Matt Kuchar (1:49 p.m. ET):The defending champion has finished in the top 15 in three of the last four years and in 2004 he tied for 16th. This season, Kuchar has four top 10s, including a win.
Brandt Snedeker (1:49 p.m. ET): He was admittedly exhausted after being in contention at the Masters and subsequently missed the cut in Hilton Head. He was also one of the hottest players in the game before getting injured in February. Snedeker has struggled here, missing the cut each of the last four years.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- It's a great thing to win THE PLAYERS Championship. It's a frustrating thing to defend the title.
This week marks the 40th playing of THE PLAYERS, and no defending champ has ever won. Matt Kuchar, the 2012 champion, gets his chance this week to make history at TPC Sawgrass.
"I don't think that this is necessarily a curse that nobody's defended the title here," Kuchar said Tuesday. "It's just kind of one of those stats you pull out, and I'd like to be the first guy that is able to repeat."
Kuchar noted the Masters has a similar curse with its Par 3 Contest. No winner of the Wednesday's Par 3 Contest at Augusta National has gone on to win the Masters that week.
While many golfers would rather not tempt fate by winning the Par 3 Contest, Kuchar decided to go hard after the Par 3 win last month in hopes of setting himself up to break the curse.
In fact, his playing partner Steve Stricker offered encouragment that Wednesday.
"He knew that I wanted to win, and he wanted to see somebody win and have a chance to break that curse," Kuchar said.
Kuchar didn't win the Par 3 Contest (tied for second) or the Green Jacket (tied for eighth) last month. Now he's got another shot at a curse this week.
Matt Kuchar fired a 69 on Saturday at Augusta National.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For the second year in a row, Matt Kuchar heads into the final round of the Masters with a chance to win his first major.
He trailed Peter Hanson by four strokes a year ago but grabbed a share of the lead -- briefly -- with an eagle at the 15th hole. After a bogey at the next hole, his second in as many days there, though, Kuchar finished two shots out of the playoff Bubba Watson won.
At 4 under thanks to Saturday's 69, Kuchar figures to be a bit closer to the top spot when the shadows set on the third round this year. He's anxious to put the lessons he's learned into play when everything is on the line.
"Last year was my first real time being in contention going late into Sunday," Kuchar said. "It's kind of what we all play golf for, having a chance at a major championship, having a chance at the Masters tournament, it's exciting. I've not quite had the feelings anywhere else that I did when I made the eagle on 15 last year and got right in contention."
Kuchar played Augusta National's all-important par 5s in 4 under on Saturday. The two on the back nine were bounce-back birdies of 2 and 6 feet while those on the front, both inside 4 feet, fueled a solid 33.
"Around this place you take what the course gives you," Kuchar said. "Here the par 5s are opportunities that you want to take advantage of and I feel great about having birdied all four. I would say that it's a good feat, because even though they are all potential birdie holes, they're all potential bogey holes or holes that you can mess up on."
With roughly an hour left in the third round, Kuchar and Nick Watney were the only two players who had shot in the 60s twice this week. Kuchar had a 75 in the second round but "cleaned things up" on Saturday, particularly his driver, and put himself in good shape for what could be a career-defining Sunday.
Kuchar may not have won a major but he has proven himself on golf's biggest stages. He beat what is annually the strongest field in golf, top-to-bottom, at last year's PLAYERS Championship and then beat the top 64 players from around the globe at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
So Kuchar doesn't look to be intimidated on Sunday. He knows everything will be magnified but he's ready to see how he measures up.
"We have all hit a thousand golf shots before," Kuchar said. "They all seem to get a little bit bigger and a little bit more challenging when a tournament's on the line, but hopefully the experience from last year and the continued good play throughout the year has helped and will help tomorrow."
The light was fading Thursday as Matt Kuchar neared the completion of his first round (How/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Matt Kuchar was in the final group to tee off in Thursday's first round at the Masters, so he had plenty of time to watch television coverage of some of the early finishers.
He heard the announcers talk about how the morning groups had the better scoring conditions while the afternoon groups might be dealing with a firmer course and potential weather issues.
Eventually, he had to shut off the TV.
"I can't listen to this any more," he said.
But the conditions held up long enough, allowing Kuchar to shoot a 4-under 68 that puts him into a six-way tie for fourth, two strokes behind co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman.
For Kuchar, who'll defend his title next month at THE PLAYERS Championship, it was a typical round for him. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in a round that included six birdies. The 68 is just the fifth time in 23 career rounds at Augusta National that he has shot in the 60s.
"I was steady," he said. "I hit a lot of fairways and had a lot of birdie chances."