Monday Finish: Adjusting to contrasting courses
Kuchar shows ability in April to adapt to vastly different layouts, claims RBC Heritage at Harbour Town
April 21, 2014
By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
- Matt Kuchar is greeted by sons Carson and Cameron on the 18th green after winning at Harbour Town. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Let’s start today with a quiz: What do TPC San Antonio, the Golf Club of Houston, Augusta National and Harbour Town Golf Links have in common?
The answer? Nothing at all.
They have different weather and different grasses. They all play to different strengths. In fact, the only similarity among the four is that Matt Kuchar has left them all recently with a very substantial check, the largest coming from his win Sunday at the RBC Heritage.
"It's amazing to have four straight weeks of changes on four completely different golf courses," said Kuchar, who now has eight top 10s in 11 starts this season. "I take a lot of pride in playing good week in and week out. This has been some excellent play."
It’s not entirely surprising. For the past five years Kuchar has been the most consistent player on TOUR and the competition for that title is not even close. He has missed just two cuts in his last 63 starts (two!). One was at the 2012 PGA Championship and one was earlier this year at the Northern Trust Open (where he was going through a minor swing change).
Of course, the past month hasn’t been without its bumps. Kuchar had great chances to win the Valero Texas Open (T4), the Shell Houston Open (lost in a playoff) and the Masters (T5), but he made uncharacteristic mistakes each Sunday afternoon to kick away his chance to win. He was on the verge of doing the same thing Sunday, three-putting from 4 feet at No. 17, but at the finishing hole he was able to turn a very good month into a very great month with a holed bunker shot and a one-stroke win.
So how good is this run that Kuchar is on? Here are a few numbers to put things in perspective:
-- During the past four tournaments, Kuchar’s scoring average is 69.6. The field scoring average over those events is more than three shots higher per round, 72.7.
-- Kuchar earned $2.35 million and 1,038 FedExCup points in the past four weeks. That alone would have put him at No. 25 on both the 2013 money list and 2013 FedExCup points list. That’s also about a half million more than Arnold Palmer made in his entire career. It works out to just over $2,100 per stroke.
-- This is the first time Kuchar has ever had four consecutive top-5 finishes. His previous best is two (second at the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational and first at the 2013 Memorial Tournament). In fact, he’s only had four consecutive top 10s one other time (2012).
-- During the past four weeks he’s made 72 birdies (or one every four holes). Keep in mind that two of the past four tournaments (Valero, Masters) have had winning scores of just 8 under.
-- With those four paychecks alone, Kuchar locks up his sixth consecutive $2 million season.
Here’s what Kuchar’s peers had to say about his recent form:
Great job by Kuch today. Played with him first two days, and guy is swinging great and of course rolling the rock as good as anybody.— Hunter Mahan (@HunterMahan) April 20, 2014
Well done also to Kuuuutch. Been struggling to find form of late. Nice to see him get it back!— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) April 21, 2014
Kuuuucchhhh.. He deserved a chip in himself! Some incredible golf the last month and I'm sure this is the beginning. Congrats Kuch— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) April 20, 2014
KUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCHHHH!!! no one deserves a little luck more than Matt Kuchar these past few weeks!— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) April 20, 2014
Speaking of Kuchar, it appears he had a bit of good fortune earlier in the week – a well-timed weather delay on Friday that helped keep his victory chase on the rails. Here’s a good quote he can add to his “Sometimes It’s Just Your Week” scrapbook:
“The rain break was a big bonus for me. I came out Friday and conditions were just nasty, and things weren't going my way. I seemed to make mistakes that I wouldn't normally make. It felt like double bogeys were popping up all over my scorecard. It wasn't a normal thing for me. I was really grateful for the horn to go off and to get a chance to regroup. And came back out and played some pretty good golf.”
The Champions Tour got a little more “interesting” this week.
Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Masters, golf’s most interesting man, Miguel Angel Jimenez, made his first Champions Tour start at the Greater Gwinnett Championship and became the 18th player in the tour’s history to win his debut. In fact, he was the second player in two tournaments to accomplish the feat (Jeff Maggert, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Presented by C-Spire).
Jimenez posted a bogey-free 67 in the final round to edge Bernhard Langer by two.
Jimenez's win marks the first time since 1980 that back-to-back Champions Tour tournaments have been won by players making their debuts.— Champions Tour (@ChampionsTour) April 21, 2014
You know, I am almost 100% certain winning a golf tournament wasn't the coolest thing Miguel Angel Jimenez did today.— Adam Fonseca (@ChicagoDuffer) April 21, 2014
Miguel Angel Jimenez: " I don't always win but when I do I prefer the @ChampionsTour "— steve wilson (@sbw27) April 20, 2014
I don’t have a lot of setup for this photo. The only thing I’ll say is that no one seems to enjoy their retirement more than Greg Norman.
THIS REALLY HAPPENED: Pablo Larrazabal had some serious bad luck on the European Tour this week, when he was attacked by a group of hornets in the middle of his round and stung more than 20 times. To get away from the hornets, Larrazabal eventually had to jump into a nearby lake.
But! The story has a happy ending. After climbing out of the lake, Larrazabal went on to birdie the hole he was playing.
Here’s the video proof:
STAT OF THE WEEK: Luke Donald didn’t convert the 54-hole lead into a victory at Harbour Town (in fact, he’s now 2-for-9 in that department), but he does have this going for him: In his last six starts at the RBC Heritage, he’s finished in the top 3 five times (three runner-ups and two third-place finishes). The only time he finished outside the top 3 since 2009 was a T37 showing in 2012.
THIS WEEK: The PGA TOUR heads to TPC Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Patrick Reed will highlight the field. Read all the week’s storylines in Jeff Shain’s First Look.