RIO DE JANEIRO – Matt Kuchar needed some solid play and a little luck in order to qualify for the Olympics. He got both at nearly the same time.
After a missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Kuchar dropped to 30th in the world, his lowest ranking in more than two years. At that point, he wasn’t anywhere near the U.S. Olympic radar.
But he’s collected eight top-10 finishes since that point. Even though he’s now ranked 20th, he was 15th after a third-place tie at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the exact number he needed to be at in order to have a chance to play in the Olympics.
Then, when Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth both pulled out prior to The Open, Kuchar squeaked in as the fourth American player.
“I had secretly fingers crossed hoping players would pull out,” he said. “I always was thrilled, always had a hope I could make it. I made a great run, kind of just before the deadline.”
Kuchar has never been to the Olympics. He was close in 1996 when the Games were in Atlanta. Kuchar had just completed high school and later that summer and was heading to Georgia Tech to begin his freshman year. But the semester was pushed back a couple weeks until after the Olympics were done.
“It’s one of those things, as a fan of sport, it’s kind of a boyhood dream,” Kuchar said. “You think, ‘wouldn’t that be amazing?’ If it wasn’t golf, just something; what could you do to be an Olympic athlete? And to be here now, it’s quite amazing.”