What they said: Matt KucharApril 18, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Valero Texas Open transcript archive
NELSON SILVERIO: All right. Welcome Matt Kuchar to the interview room here at the Valero Texas Open. Welcome, Matt.
You're the highest ranked player in the field this week and you've made all eight cuts that you've played in this year including two Top-5s. Just kind of give us your thoughts on your year so far and the state of your game.
MATT KUCHAR: Been a good year. I started out with my lightest West Coast schedule due to playing the most I ever have in the off-season. With the Presidents Cup being so late in the year, it was an awkward off-season as far as not getting an off-season.
Started out light. Wasn't sure really how it would go and been steady golf and seems to have started getting better and better which was my hope. We always try to gear up for the Masters Tournament and had my best round ever at the Masters, which was exciting to have a shot there on Sunday. I still get goose bumps thinking about the roars and the excitement that comes along with playing well late on Sunday afternoon around Augusta National. That was fun.
And excited to be here. This is an event that I remember being at home last year watching on TV thinking I need to add that to my schedule, it looks like a difficult driving golf course, demanding golf course, one that would suit my game pretty well.
I had come to the Texas Open for years when it was La Cantera. Might have been one of the few that actually enjoyed La Cantera. I thought it was a fun place to be.
I heard great things about this from Cameron Beckman had talked to me a good bit about this course, this event; that the hotel was fantastic, the kids would love it. I've got wife and two kids in tow and they had a big day at the pool yesterday.
I'm looking forward to joining them this afternoon. I spent the day trying to learn the front-9 yesterday afternoon and the kids got to enjoy the pool so I'm going to go have fun being a kid and enjoy the property here.
Q. Send them out on the front-9??
MATT KUCHAR: Send them out on the back-9.
Q. Not everybody has been quite as glowing about the course. Obviously, you're one of only two guys in the Top 50 here this week.
I guess players do hear things about courses and they might get a little intimidated by that kind of thing. Is there any particular reason why you think there's so few big names here other than yourself??
MATT KUCHAR: It's a tough run of events. I think it's such a juggling act for schedules when you get to the top guys. The top guys can pick and choose the events, want to try to peak for the World Golf Championships and the Major tournaments that I think the date is as often to blame as anything.
I think this course is a course that is probably one of the hardest that we have on Tour, just from my first real look today, I played all 18 today.
It seems to be trouble everywhere. 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.
So, hard courses I enjoy going to. I look forward to this one. This one I think is a really tough one for the amateurs. They did a great job today with making the Pro-Am a shamble, pick the best drive and I think that helped everybody's game a good bit, and helped the speed of play a good bit.
I look forward to the challenge and I think these sort of courses fit my game pretty well.
Q. You talk about the schedule obviously impacting players. Does word of mouth impact players as well??
Is there a word of mouth regarding a course like Cameron with you, who players might say I don't want -- that course is going to beat me up a little much??
MATT KUCHAR: I don't know if players -- I would hope guys that are the best in the world don't say that course may be too difficult for me. I hope that doesn't happen.
I think there are courses that are more enjoyable to play and some may be more fun than others. You might not walk off this course thinking you've had a great deal of fun out there.
But, at the same token, you got a chance to compete against some of the best players in the world and I think it's fun to test yourself on different courses.
I think the British Open is one of those opportunities. Test yourself on a completely different surface, completely different type of golf and see how you stack up.
I look at it kind of like tennis. You know, it would be great to be the player that was great on all surfaces, on clay, on grass, on hard court, really look back and say, you know, if you would have won all four Majors you were absolutely one of the best of all time.
If you could just play at Wimbledon, that would be great. But I think it serves your game better to be a great player on all surfaces and that's kind of the way I look at it. I like to be a great player at all venues.
Q. Matt, can you expand on that just a little bit? You had mentioned trouble off the tees. How really key is it to really stay safe off tee boxes on this golf course?
MATT KUCHAR: Well, 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.
It can be, I think, an easy minimum of two shots because you can get in situations where an unplayable just doesn't help you or two club lengths doesn't get you anywhere going back on line with the pin, may not even get you anywhere. You may have to go back to the tee box and re-tee.
If you do try to play from some of the trouble areas, it can be five, ten shot penalty depending on how well you go out of it (laughter). So, it's a massive penalty if you're crooked off the tee.
Q. In '98 you played really well at Augusta and then you played really well at Olympic Club. Looking forward to going back to the Olympic Club??
MATT KUCHAR: I am. I am. I remember my -- funny memories, doing really well at Augusta in '98 and having an even better result at the Olympic Club.
I could remember walking off the 18th green at Augusta National thinking I can't believe the round is already over. I had so much fun, I couldn't believe that. I was in the clubhouse having a cheeseburger, I didn't want the day to end.
I can remember walking off the 18th green at Olympic, I just like to go home and take a nap (laughter). I remember being just exhausted out there. Olympic Club seemed so much more difficult in every aspects.
It seemed like the tee ball was such a big -- and the rough was so penalizing there. The greens so undulating and so quick. They had the issue on 18 that year where the green got -- a pin got stuck in the place where the ball wouldn't stay.
So I could remember just walking off greens being exhausted, and I'm anticipating a similar experience. I really enjoy playing the golf course, I love the area. So I've got some great memories. It sounds like they've made the course harder, longer from.
Q. 665-yard par 5.
MATT KUCHAR: I think the USGA has also done a better and fair job of setting up courses where maybe it's not quite as penalizing or exhausting.
The graduated rough system is a fantastic thing where the ball just off the fairway is playable as opposed if I just missed the fairway, you're really sweating it back in the old days where it could have been a major penalty.
Q. Johnson Wagner was interesting a couple weeks ago talking about coming to San Antonio and he likes the idea of a lot of players not being here, it's a better chance to win.
Do you, as a player -- which I thought was interesting because lot of players I talked to don't look at the field. I'm worried about what I'm going to do.
Where do you land on that? Do you look at the field and say, "I'm the top rated player here, might have a good shot here"?
MATT KUCHAR: I hope I would have a good shot any week and I always think it's extra exciting to have a chance to beat the best in the world.
I mean at one point when Tiger was just so dominating and the guys seem to crumble playing with him, it seemed like you had an opportunity to beat the best in the world, that you really had nothing to lose; here is an opportunity that nobody seems to be able to get it right and if you get it right, you could be that guy that beat Tiger.
Kind of the Y.E. Yang situation where he was the guy that took him down to the PGA and did something that nobody thought was really possible.
So, I think having that opportunity is one that I think most of us really look forward to. You hope that your best may be good enough to beat the best in the world.
But here, an event like this, you think golly, I maybe have a great opportunity that if I play well I really should have a good opportunity come Sunday.
But I hope that every week. I think there are a lot of guys that may look at this and see an opportunity with a big purse and have an opportunity to make a good deal of money. This is one where I'm anxious to be here, anxious to test my game, hope to have a good shot come Sunday afternoon.
NELSON SILVERIO: Okay. Anymore questions? All right. Matt, thank you.
MATT KUCHAR: Thank you.