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May 14 2012

1:15 AM

Notes from inside the ropes

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Matt Kuchar's old putting prowess returned at THE PLAYERS Championship.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Kuchar had not enjoyed a good putting year – until this week at THE PLAYERS Championship. In 2010 he was eighth on the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained-Putting. In 2011 he slipped to 26th, and this season Kuchar is 132nd. This week the Kuchar of old returned with a renewed putting stroke, and rounds of 27, 26, 26 and 31 putts. He finished second this week in SGP.

Waggles: Kevin Na played poorly on Sunday, shooting 4-over 76. It happens. Na still earned the admiration of the press and his fellow competitors for the way he handled Saturday’s spotlight. When Na could not pull the trigger on shots, he did not hide his problem. Instead he apologized and tried to explain his affliction. What’s curious to me is Na having to hit only after an even number of waggles. If he doesn’t swing at two, he has to take four waggles, then six and then a back off. Why only even-numbered waggles?

Press room: One of the delights of working THE PLAYERS Championship is the array of foreign press. The tournament attracts worldwide coverage, which can make for a lively press room. Early Sunday morning, all eyes were watching the soccer match between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers. Manchester City scored twice in stoppage time to clinch its first league title in 44 years. Oh, the excitement.

Rickie: Rickie Fowler received a terrible break with a bad lie on the fifth hole, which led to double bogey, yet he persevered in the tournament. Fowler battled to the end and had a putt on 18 to finish 12 under. Just before stroking the putt, the gallery groaned when a video board showed Kuchar making bogey at 17. Fowler had to back off, go through his routine again and then pushed the putt to the right. If Kuchar plays the 18th with a one-shot lead as opposed to a two-shot margin, the hole becomes much more difficult. It takes some good luck along with good shots to win.

Double free: Playing a hard golf course in sometimes windy conditions, Kuchar went 72 holes without a single double bogey. It’s the doubles that are so debilitating in a round, sapping momentum. Kuchar never followed up a mistake with another mistake. He pounded greens in the final round, hitting 15 of 18.

Tiger: There seems to be a feeling that Tiger Woods is lost and playing terrible golf. That's just wrong. He did not have a good week, finishing 40th at 1 under. The big picture shows Woods is ranked 13th in FedExCup standings, 13th on the money list and seventh in the world. That is a career year for most players.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and inside the ropes this week at THE PLAYERS Championship. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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