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April 18 2012

7:09 PM

Kuchar: I'm here to test my game

Inteview: Matt Kuchar

The three-time PGA TOUR winner talks about adding TPC San Antonio to this schedule for 2012.

Matt Kuchar found out something Wednesday that Kevin Na already knew -- that veering off the fairways at TPC San Antonio is not something you want to do.

Na, of course, drove well right of the fairway on the par 4 ninth in the opening round of the Valero Texas Open. It was no-man's land, and as Golf Channel's cameras rolled, Na embarked on an odyssey that finally ended 15 minutes later with a shocking 16 on his scorecard.

That one shot ruined Na's chance to win: He was among the leaders at 1 under when he got to the ninth, and left knowing he would miss the cut. Remarkably, Na made three birdies (vs. no bogeys) on the back to shoot 80.

Matt Kuchar is well aware that what happened to Na could happen to anyone in the field.

"It seems to be trouble everywhere," Kuchar said. "If you're not driving the ball well, you're really in trouble. But even in the iron game, the greens are so demanding as well, undulating with big falloffs that a shot that's just off can end up in a place that is a really bad place.

"It can be a huge number if you get in trouble off the tee. It's not just take a drop out of a water hazard and it's a one shot penalty.

TPC San Antonio is in its third year as the host of the Valero Texas Open, but this is the first time Kuchar had seen the 7,500-yard track with huge greens. The course, beset by wind last year, was the toughest par-72 track on the schedule, excluding majors.

"This is [a course] where I'm anxious to be here, anxious to test my game, hope to have a good shot come Sunday afternoon," Kuchar said.

Kuchar skipped the event the last two years, then happened to be watching the telecast last year, when Brendan Steele held on for his first career win.

"This is an event that I remember being at home last year watching on TV thinking, 'I need to add that to my schedule,'" Kuchar said. "It looks like a difficult driving golf course, demanding golf course, one that would suit my game pretty well."

Kuchar enters this event in the midst of an outstanding playing streak. After a career year in 2010, he followed it up with a season that was almost as good in 2011. He finished sixth or better in the FedExCup standings each year, and his combined 20 top-10s almost doubled his career total.

He started slowly this year, though -- he didn't get a top-10 in a stroke play event until the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship -- but he was 10th at the Transitions Championship. He then nearly won the Masters, finishing tied for third after a final-round 69.

Adding TPC San Antonio to his schedule will help Kuchar prep for the big events in May and June -- notably THE PLAYERS Championship and the U.S. Open. Kuchar badly wants to win at TPC Sawgrass, where his tee-to-green game sets up perfectly for him, and Olympic, where he tied for 21st as an amateur in 1998.

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