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."