Following an opening-round 67, Matt Kuchar reflects on his play in the 2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Matt Kuchar used to play East Lake Golf Club frequently when he was a student at nearby Georgia Tech.
But it took the 34-year-old longer than he had hoped to return to play the legendary Bobby Jones' home track as a pro during the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Kuchar is hoping the third time's a charm, too.
Two years ago, he came back to Atlanta ranked first in the FedExCup only to tie for 25th and fall one spot in the competition for the $10 million bonus. Kuchar entered the Playoffs finale at fifth last year and tied for 20th in the tournament, again dropping a spot in the FedExCup.
This week, Kuchar is no longer among the five who control their own destiny at East Lake. He came in 16th so all he can do is focus on winning and see where the rest of the chips fall -- and Kuchar did what he needed to do on Thursday with a 67 that left him one shot off the lead.
"My first two TOUR Championships didn't go quite as nice as I would have liked," he said. "Awfully nice to get off to a good start. Didn't hit it that well, didn't drive it that well particularly, but putted fantastic. Really had the putter going."
Kuchar made four birdies and dropped just one shot to par when he missed the fairway and the green at No. 4 and couldn't convert a 19-footer to save. He only hit five fairways and 11 greens on Thursday but those 26 putts helped him compensate on a course on which he's becoming increasing comfortable.
"I think I've learned over the years that maybe the difference between college and now is the new greens and how firm they are," Kuchar said. "There are just a lot of places where you used to be able to get up and down, and now you can't. I played smart when I was in trouble, and I was able to sneak away with a 3 under par round."
Kuchar says he has decided to embrace the distraction of family and friends this week, and he's come in more rested than in the past. He's not checking the numbers or obsessing over the scenarios, he's just trying to play his best to see where it takes him.
"The game of golf is so fickle that I think I do a good job of not putting too much in the way of expectations on myself," Kuchar said. "I come looking to play well, but certainly not expecting it. So I don't know if the pressure was there or just the game of golf."
The top 30 in FedExCup points are headed to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a look at Matt Kuchar, one of the 30 players who will contend for the FedExCup title.
SCENARIOS TO WIN FEDEXCUP: For Kuchar to win the
FedExCup, he MUST win the TOUR Championship and have the following
scenarios fall into place:
> Rory McIlroy (No. 1) finishes in a 3-way tie for 9th or worse
> Tiger Woods (No. 2) finishes in a 3-way tie for 4th or worse
> Nick Watney (No. 3) must finish fourth or worse
> Phil Mickelson (No. 4) finishes T-3 or worse
Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) finishes T-2 or worse
> *Tie for the FedExCup
Click here for scenarios of every player
SEASON IN REVIEW: Kuchar ended a 20-month victory drought in a big way when he came from behind to win THE PLAYERS by two strokes. The win was his first in 37 starts -- during which time he had produced 14 top-10 finishes. Two of those came in World Golf Championships, and he added another later in the year at the Bridgestone Invitational, his eighth top-10 of the season. His consistency led to a spot on his second Ryder Cup team. -- Helen Ross
PATH TO TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Here’s a look at
Kuchar’s results in the first three events of the 2012
Click here for Playoffs Tracker of every player.
|FEC ranking after event||
PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES: Here is how Kuchar has finished in previous Playoffs appearances:
EAST LAKE HISTORY: Though Kuchar is from Atlanta, he’s made it to East Lake only twice, tying for 20th in 2011 and 25th the year before. He’s broken par just once in eight rounds there.
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Fred Albers, on-course
correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, provides a quick look at
Georgia Tech graduate who has lots of local knowledge at East Lake. Has no weakness in his game, does everything well. I think his family life is so solid, it helps his golf game as it puts everything in perspective. Kuchar has the ability to stay very emotionally level during a round of golf.
PLAYER PAGE: Click here for more on Matt Kuchar
Now it’s your turn. How do you think Kuchar will fare at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the RBC Canadian Open below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Ernie Els vs. Vijay Singh||Two of the game's best over-40 players. Or best players, period.|
|Jim Furyk vs. Sean O'Hair||Furyk won here in 2006; O'Hair is defending champion|
|Matt Kuchar vs. Hunter Mahan||Mahan started the season on fire; lately, Kuchar's been hot|
|Brandt Snedeker vs. Scott Stallings||It's Vanderbilt (Nashville) vs. Tennessee Tech (Cookeville)|
|Robert Garrigus vs. Charlie Wi||FedExCup surprises in '12 -- both are on the top 30 bubble|
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
CROMWELL, Conn. -- David Mathis got off to a tremendous start. He made a 22-foot birdie at the 10 th. He made a 49-foot birdie at the 12 th. In between, Mathis made an ace at the 159-yard 11 th. Mathis leads the tournament in Strokes Gained - Putting and in length of putts made (he sank 141 feet of putts on Thursday).
Defending champion: Fredrik Jacobson struggled with the heat. With heat index temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, he repeatedly wiped down the grips of all his clubs to maintain good contact. It worked. Jacobson hit 16 greens and notched seven birdies. His only mistake was a double bogey on the 16 th hole and that was almost an ace -- Jacobson’s pitch mark was just a foot from the cup.
Hot start: It was so hot during the opening round, play had to be halted on occasion for the greens to be syringed. Officials constantly monitored the bentgrass greens, which can’t tolerate extreme heat. This week certainly qualifies. The maintenance crew would hose down the greens to lower the surface temperature. That made greens more receptive but also kept the putting surfaces alive.
Putting problems: Kyle Stanley is a great player. He’s a tournament winner, is 17 th in FedEx Cup points and is sixth on TOUR in average driving distance. He has a weakness though and he knows what is -- putting. Stanley is ranked 180 th on TOUR in Strokes Gained - Putting. He had 34 putts in the opening round and his only birdies came from two putts after missing eagle putts when reaching the par 5s in two.
Happy birthday: Congratulations to Matt Kuchar -- he turned 34 on Thursday and celebrated by shooting a 3-under 67. His round included an eagle at the 13 th and just 24 putts.
Bubba time: What a strange round of golf for Bubba Watson. He is the longest hitter on TOUR and yet did not birdie any of the par 5s or the driveable par-4 15 th hole. Even with those miscues, Watson shot 66. A hole-out eagle at the 10 th helped offset his mistakes on the par 5s.
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Matt Kuchar turned 34 on Thursday, and he celebrated it by shooting a 3-under 67.
At one point, Kuchar really had it going at 5 under through his first 10 holes but gave three shots back with bogeys on Nos. 2, 4 and 7.
Coming off a long week at the U.S. Open, Kuchar managed to find some energy on a hot afternoon a few days after what will undoubtedly be the toughest week of the year.
“Some days feel like a letdown,” said Kuchar, whose grandparents live about an hour south of here. “You've just played a tournament where so much pressure and so many people. You can see guys being tired, being fatigued from last week.”
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Kuchar's name inevitably comes up whenever the discussion focuses on best active players without a major.
Maybe that ends this week.
"My game's in great shape," he said Tuesday. "It was so exciting to have won THE PLAYERS Championship, to have beaten maybe the best field in golf on one of the toughest golf courses we play all year.
"That helps a lot with confidence, with coming to a championship like this, with coming to a course that's this difficult and a field that's this good, to know that I've kind of been there and done it."
Kuchar has good vibes about the Olympic Club. He played in the U.S. Open here in 1998, earning low amateur honors with a tie for 14th.
He also thinks if he's going to break through with a major win, the U.S. Open might be his best chance. After all, staying out of trouble plays to his strengths. He ranks 10th in greens in regulation and 25th in driving accuracy on the PGA TOUR. Oh, he also leads the TOUR in scoring average.
Should he win this week, he’ll become the first player to claim THE PLAYERS and the U.S. Open in the same year.
"I think my temperament, my game, is suited very well for a U.S. Open," he said. "I think that I drive the ball accurately. I think I'm a guy that also can manage my game well enough to make a bunch of pars and not get on bogey trains or eliminate some of the biggest holes, bigger scores.
"So I definitely like my chances. I think a U.S. Open is a good fit for me."