April 7 2012
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Matt Kuchar called it steady. Solid.
"The only blemish were those three-putts,'' he said.
At 13 and 16. Momentum busters.
One minute he's in the lead, the next he's not.
"It was fun,'' Kuchar said of the day. "I made a birdie on nine and it was awesome to hear that roar. It's a special feeling when they cheer for you and then a great birdie on 18. That's fun to be a part of. Fun when those go your way. You can hear them from afar as well. You kind of wonder and you know it's something good. But it takes some leaderboard watching to figure it out."
"Do my best not to (watch them),'' he said. "I don't mind if I do catch one. It's hard to avoid, but I do my best to avoid. There's so many names on the leader board, I didn't take enough time to really glance up and see just where I stood.''
For the record, Kuchar is poised to make a run at his first Green Jacket. His third-round 70 left him at 5-under for the tournament and four shots behind leader Peter Hanson going into the final round.
Impossible? Hardly. Improbable? Kuchar will join some impressive company if he can pull it off.
Kuchar, who played at Georgia Tech, was the low amateur in 1998, but finished behind Sergio Garcia in 1999. The only players to earn low amateur honors that went on to victory at the Masters as a pro? Tiger Woods (1995), Phil Mickelson (1991), Ben Crenshaw (1972), Jack Nicklaus (1960) and Cary Middlecoff (1946).
Kuchar was never really out of it, but his birdie at the 18th put him right there with 18 to go.
"I didn't expect to hole that one, no,'' he said. "That was one I knew the line was good. I knew that my club was the right club. I went to a 57 degree to let the ball run out a little more and came out good. I was looking to have a short par putt. I wasn't looking to hole that one."
Yet he did.
So what’s difference between his low amateur days and now?
"I have more experience and I'm a much steadier player,'' he said.
Kuchar was cruising until he bogeyed the 13th. "I laid up and hit a wedge shot and I thought was good,'' he said. "Got up to the top of the hill and rolled back down. It was a tough 2-putt from there. It's a hard green."
Then he parred 15 when he laid up.
"Had a nice wedge in,'' said Kuchar, who came into the week with three top 10s in his last three events. "Again, thought I had a beautiful wedge. It skipped over and was a tough up and down from over the green on 15. So to be 1-over on those two holes, you feel like you are losing strokes.
"I felt like I hit, for the most part, all good shots and ended up just being 1-over,'' he said. "That's easy to have happen here.''
Kuchar's best finish here was his rookie year as an amateur when he tied for 21st, but that will likely change Sunday. He's got a house-full this week which has relaxed him just enough to let his game peek through.
"We've had a lot of fun, been able to go home and hang out with the family,'' he said. "We have got my parents, my wife's parents, my dad's parents, my two kids, my sister and her kids, so we've had a bunch of family here. It's really been a lot of fun.
"I think it's such a family week for us. It's nice for me to go back home and be under the radar and just be part of the family.''