Crowne Plaza Inv. interview: Matt Kuchar

May 26, 2013

MARK STEVENS:  I would like to welcome Matt Kuchar who got it to 11 under holding the third round lead going into tomorrow. 

If you want to talk about your round today and then we will have a few questions.

MATT KUCHAR:  This morning it feels like a day ago.  It's hard to believe it's the same day I woke up at 4:30 this morning to get out of here to play two and a half holes. 

But I was able to survive this morning with a couple of pars and get out this afternoon.  I got off to a great start with an easy birdie on 1.  A good chance on 2, a great chance, hit a couple of really good shots in the tree,  just little putts.  I felt like I was playing some really good golf.  I had a couple of bogeys on 7 and 8 which were surprises for me.  I felt like they were easy up and downs, and I feel like that's one of my strengths is to convert on those opportunities and not let shots go.  I was glad to bounce back on the back side with a birdie on 11 and a birdie on 16 and kind of hold my ground at least. 

It would have been nice today to have extended the lead a little bit.  It seems like there is a bunch of guys bunched up right there at 10 and 9 and 8 under.  Tomorrow is an exciting today.  It's going to take a both of birdies, I know.   There is going to be a bunch of guys shooting low tomorrow, and I will have to see how low I can go as well.

Q. Was it a more difficult today because of the wind and maybe the early rain?

MATT KUCHAR: The conditions were definitely more challenging.  There was a lot more wind.  Thursday, Friday was pretty benign out here, I think it was 10 miles and hour.  Today felt at least double the wind.  And this course presents enough challenges without wind.  You throw some wind in it, it can be really challenging. 

Q. Matt, can you talk about having to wait after finishing up that second round and what did you do in the meantime and just stay focused and ready for Round 3 today?

MATT KUCHAR:  I went back to the hotel.  The kids were up and moving.  So it was a pretty quick 2 hour break at the hotel and hanging with the kids and playing with the family.  So it was a fun little break, but nice to get back home and have a shower and take it a little easy and comeback out here like it was a brand new day.

Q. Matt, can you take us through 18?  It looked like your drive kicked off a tree and went into the deep rough.  And then salvaging par to be solo leader, the significance of that in your mind?

MATT KUCHAR:  The drive went a little left, did catch a tree, stayed in the left rough.  I had a pretty open shot just judging the ball coming out of the rough correctly.  I left it a little to the right, hopped out of a bunker into the rough and made a pretty routine up and down there.  I had an awkward stance but not too difficult.  To be the outright leader is nice.  I don't think you want to be in any other position.  I think you want to lead and want as big a lead as you can get.  So to not give away a stroke and maintain a one shot lead is a good position to be in.  Everybody has got to come get me tomorrow.

Q. Matt, you've had a couple of close shots this week, you had one that jarred the hole and come back out, you know.  Given the fact that you had this one shot lead, and it might look like you could extend it a little bit, those kind of shots do you think about them at all or is that just golf?

MATT KUCHAR:  That's the tough thing about the game of golf.  All of us have those shots.  All of us could look back and say what if, and only if.  It is golf.  You got to just keep plugging away.  Sometimes they go in the hole and sometimes they don't.  I think those sort of things even out over the course of a tournament and certainly over the course of a year.  But everybody has those things happen.

Q. Talk about 17, that was a pretty significant shot you had to do out of bunker, but just to finish it and complete it like you did?

MATT KUCHAR:  It's nice to not drop any shots.  I'm bumbed about pulling the wrong club.  It's one of the things that I really dislike doing, making a wrong decision.  I decided on a 9 iron.  It should have been an 8 iron,  it came up short.  I had a very long bunker shot and one of those ones you don't want to go passed the hole.  It goings off the green pretty quickly once you get passed the hole.  I left it ten feet short and was able to sneak that putt right in.  It was really nice not to give shots away.  Nobody likes making bogeys.  Certainly when you are in the position of the lead, it's really important to not make bogeys, to keep making pars and saving pars and try to move forward by making birdies as well.

Q. How challenging is No. 13?  Can you just take about your nice save there?

13 was a front pin and the wind left is a really challenging hole.  I would be interested to see how close anybody got it and what the scoring average was today.  It was a tough pin location with a tough wind.  I hit a shot, I thought the wind was going to hold up more.  It was a shot that just drew into the wind, and I thought was going to get stood up a little bit more.  It kind of went through the wind into the back bunker and into the left portion of the back bunker which didn't give me a lot of choices other than to fly the ball onto that front plateau and try to make it stop as quickly as possible and pulled off a great shot. 
It's one of those things, I feel my bunker game is one of my strong suits, so when I got in that position I knew the one shot to play was the shot that I tried to pull off and hit an awfully good one. 

Q. Considering how many guys are in contention here, were you scoreboard watching at all this afternoon and how tough is it not to look at that scoreboard?

I don't scoreboard watch much.  I did notice there was similarly a bunch of guys right there at 8, 9, 10 under par.  I have seen it.  And I know there is a bunch of good players.  Not only a bunch of players, but a bunch of good players up there.  Tomorrow is going to be exciting.  I'm looking forward to having the lead and seeing if I can maintain it and my goal tomorrow will be to grow the lead.

Q.  What did you hit in at 16?  Just talk about the difficult or not of that birdie putt once you stood over it. 

The difficulty is the approach shot.  The tee shot is hard with that pin tucked on that back right plateau, it's a small area.  You hit downwind, a little bit off to the left.  I decided to go ahead and hit a full 9 iron there.  It ended up being a perfect club.  It's a bit of a guessing game when you have as much downwind as we are, just how far the ball is going to go.  It came out to be the right distance, 12 feet.  I got to see Graham's chip shot from a real similar angle.  What looked like was going to break left really straightened out.  So I felt like I had a pretty good read on it and the putt was fast.  And for it to find the hole, 16 is a great place to make birdies, I was pretty excited when that putt went in.

Q. Matt, if you had your druthers would you rather have a lead on a course where you can play maybe a little bit more defensive, or on the course like we are presuming tomorrow where you are going to have to be really aggressive?

I never thought about it.  I'm not too sure.  I feel pretty comfortable playing on courses where you have to make birdies.  And I also enjoy the difficult courses where par is a good score.  I don't know that my game is all that much suited to either course.  I've tried to build a golf game that works on all courses in all setups.  I feel very comfortable if the game plan tomorrow    if the conditions are such where you got to go low, I feel very comfortable being able to make some birdies and being able to go low.  If conditions are hard, I would be pretty excited to try to just  salvage pars and make sure I don't give strokes away. 

MARK STEVENS:  Everybody good?  Thanks for your time.  Good luck tomorrow.

MATT KUCHAR: Thank you.