Kuchar Putting It All Together

By Mercer BaggsMarch 9, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Honda ClassicIn the early morning hours, on a chilly Tuesday earlier this season, Matt Kuchar stood isolated among a small crowd on the practice green.
 
Putting from all angles, at two separate holes, he stroked one putt after another, until at least 15 minutes had passed.
 
He then went to his bag, and instead of packing it up and heading to the range, he pulled out a different putter.
 
The same routine ensued.
 
Then he did it with a third putter. And a fourth.
 
Finally, after nearly an hour of practice, he appeared ready to exit the putting premises.
 
His walk, however, was a false alarm. He was only headed to a Ping representative, from whom he borrowed a putter with a head shaped like a steroidal potato masher.
 
Another 15-20 minutes later, Kuchar was finally putter-pooped.
 
I like to experiment, just play around with different equipment, Kuchar said between his putting and ball-striking practice sessions. But I always go back to my trusty old putter.
 
Old Trusty didnt live up to its name last year, and it cost him a little confidence and a lot of cash.
 
A season removed from Rookie of the Year consideration, Kuchar dropped from 49th on the PGA Tour money list to 182nd ' more than a $1 million difference. He made only eight of 23 cuts, and not a single one after the Western Open in July.
 
Kuchar had one victory (Honda Classic) and four top-10 finishes in 2002. He took the collar in both departments last season.
 
It was frustrating, Kuchar said in classic understated fashion. Id say the main reason why I didnt perform well was putting. If youre going to win ' or just play well ' you have to putt well.
 
In his first full year on tour ' after a near pristine amateur career that saw him win the 1997 U.S. Amateur Championship and twice earn first-team All-America honors at Georgia Tech ' Kuchar ranked 40th in putts per round, at 28.63.
 
Last year, he sank to 107th, needing 29.18 swipes every 18 holes.
 
But, thanks to his win at Honda a season prior, Kuchar had a mulligan in his pocket ' an extra year to regroup, recover and retain his tour card.
 
Now, the pressure is really on to perform. Another finish outside the top 125 on the money list and hell have to make his maiden Q-School appearance ' he initially earned his card by playing well in sponsors exemptions in 2001 ' in order to gain full exempt status next season.
 
Definitely, this year I need to make the top 125, he said. That now becomes kind of a priority.
 
But, I set my sights pretty high, instead of just saying I need to make the cut or I need to make the top 125. If you set your goals high, even if you dont make them, sometimes you get close anyway.
 
One of those lofty goals is a return trip to the winners circle. That would almost assure him of hitting another target.
 
Id really like to make the Tour Championship. Its at East Lake; I have a lot of connections in Atlanta and at the club, said the former Yellow Jacket.
 
He also hopes to be a 'major' player.
 
Kuchar -- who awed fans with his brilliant play and omnipresent smile in the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open -- failed to qualify for a single major championship last season.
 
Thanks to his Honda triumph, he played in all four majors in 2002; though, he missed the cut in each one.
 
Kuchar has had plenty of weekends off lately.
 
His sophomore season ended dreadfully with seven consecutive missed cuts. But it dramatically got better when, a week after his final event, he married Sybi Parker, a former Georgia Tech tennis standout.
 
It was nice to take a break. We went to Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, he said.
 
I basically had just the honeymoon off ' it was about a month off. Then I got back to practicing and getting ready for this season.
 
I wanted to come out and be prepared. I didnt want this year to creep up on me without being ready to go.
 
Kuchar said he has been working with instructor Randy Sonnier, who helped Frank Lickliter overhaul his swing and win last year in Tucson, and Rick Smith, the notable swing coach to Phil Mickelson.
 
My swing has been on good form for a while now, Kuchar said. Working with the two of them has been good for me.
 
Ive mainly been working on my putting.
 
You look at a guy like a Tiger Woods or an Ernie Els, Kuchar continued. You look at them address the ball and you say, How can they not hit anything but a good shot? And so the rest of us, we never quite look like Tiger Woods or Ernie Els setting up. I think that might be part of our problem; we don't always look like we're going to hit a good shot. I think from the start, when you put yourself in such a good position, you have some margin for error.
 
And so that's been the major key that I've been working on.
 
While mentally and physically prepared to attack 2004 head-on, it took Kuchar a few rounds to awaken his putter from its slumber.
 
Kuchar missed his first two cuts of the season before earning a share of the first-round lead in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
He needed only 25 putts in shooting 65 at Poppy Hills, but couldnt crack 74 over the next three rounds and tied for 48th.
 
He then missed the cut in the Buick Invitational and last week at Doral.
 
Apparently his putter just rolled over and went right back to sleep. His putts-per-round average has actually increased, to 30.00, this season.
 
And so he continues to practice.
 
Just trying to match my lines up, and move the handle a little more. I tend to move the putter without moving the handle ' a little wristy, he explained.
 
Putter-by-putter, he putts away.
 
Until Old Trusty starts earning its keep. Or he finds a new Old Trusty.
 
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.