Kuchar overcomes trying week to win WGC

By Rex HoggardFebruary 25, 2013, 1:43 am

MARANA, Ariz. – It was strangely apropos that on the same day the PGA Tour officially pushed back on the proposed ban on anchoring some wondered if the “Kooch” style of putting should be considered nonconforming, the byproduct of namesake Matt Kuchar’s workmanlike effort atop Dove Mountain this week.

Not that a ban on the “Kooch,” which features a longer putter shaft with the handle buried into the left forearm, would make much of a difference according to Kuchar’s longtime putting coach Dave Stockton Sr.

“I wanted him to put the butt of the club in his wrist and it just kept going up and up (his forearm),” Stockton said last month. “Either way he’s a great putter.”

Through five wild wintery days in the Arizona highlands Kuchar was the best of a bunch that included the better part of the world’s top 64 players, rolling through the delayed early rounds at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and weathering the weather and a relentless rally by Hunter Mahan in Sunday’s title bout to collect his first WGC salad bowl.

Consider Kuchar’s line for the week at the WGC-Snowball Fight features putting totals of 28, 28, 22, 24, 25 and 20. While that includes the normal number of conceded offerings and shortened rounds it could get U.S. Golf Association types reconsidering their decision to make the “Kooch” stroke legal under the proposed ban.

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A week sent sideways by nearly 4 inches of snow on Wednesday, multiple frost and freeze-related delays and gusts on Sunday that reached 30 mph was made whole by the circuit’s ultimate meat-and-potatos guy.

For the week Kuchar smiled his way to six victories, trailed a total of three holes and never reached the 18th tee in competition.

“Match play I find to be such an amazing, unique format, so much fun to play and so much pressure,” said Kuchar, who has advanced to the final four the last three years at the Match Play and improved to 15-3 at the event. “It seems like each hole there's so much momentum riding and so much pressure.”

Even Kuchar’s 2-and-1 victory over Mahan wasn’t as close as the line would suggest. Through nine holes Kuchar was 4 up, the byproduct of Mahan’s 4-over outward effort as much as Kuchar’s steady start, but he cut short the comeback with a 7-footer to trade birdies with Mahan at the 12th and a 10-footer for birdie at the short par-4 15th hole, both times to remain 2 up.

“He’s more of like a fuzzier Peter Jacobsen kind of guy who likes to talk,” said Mahan, the defending champion whose run of holes without trailing at the Match Play ended at a staggering 166 frames on Sunday. “It's just fun to be around him. And the way he plays, it's going to make you play your best as well.”

And while that unorthodox putting style may be what propelled Kuchar to victory, the ubiquitous smile, a stout pair of winter gloves and three sets of chemical hand warmers were the why.

“Those gloves were the MVP today,” smiled Kuchar’s caddie Lance Bennett, who loaned his boss the gloves for Sunday’s shootout. “He’s really good at managing his ball in tough conditions. He never lets anything faze him. He never has a bad attitude.”

It was easy to go negative at Dove Mountain, particularly as the temperature dropped and the delays mounted.

From snow to sunscreen to windswept, the 2013 Match Play endured three of four seasons and four untimely exits by each of the top four seeded players.

In order the Match Play doled out capricious body blows to the marquee that had nothing to do with Mother Nature. First Tiger Woods was sent packing in Round 1 for the third time in 13 years, a 2-and-1 sleeper to Charles Howell III; followed by world No. 1 Rory McIlroy’s one-and-done loss to Shane Lowry (Note to all other tournament organizers: if you want to Tiger-proof your tournament switch to match play; he is now 3-for-13 at the WGC).

Friday was no more predictable with world No. 3 Luke Donald and the last remaining top-seeded player Louis Oosthuizen getting bounced by Scott Piercy and Robert Garrigus, respectively.

No. 10 Bubba Watson was the last remaining top-10 player who made it to the weekend. That’s not a WGC, that’s the Tampa Bay Championship, which many suggest should be the new home for the Match Play which has suffered snow delays twice in the last three years and annually struggles at the gate.

By the time Sunday’s gale blew away those metaphorical clouds, however, few could argue the merit of the last men standing.

Following a 36-hole Saturday (Note to Match Play officials: doubling up on Saturday worked well, bringing Wednesday’s start into question) Kuchar handed Jason Day, who won the bridesmaid match over Ian Poulter, his only loss of the week, 4 and 3, and added to a resume that now includes a Players Championship (2012) and a WGC.

It’s a reality that casts Kuchar into an altogether new spotlight that has nothing to do with his putting style. Transformed by swing coach Chris O'Connell following a fall from competitive grace in the mid-2000s, Kuchar’s status as arguably the best player without a major championship is as sound as that evergreen smile.

Following the snow that briefly delayed the final match in 2011, Kuchar’s children have returned to Dove Mountain each year awaiting a similar white-out despite assurances from Dad, “It’s Tucson, it’s not going to snow.”

It turns out the only thing more predictable than snow at Dove Mountain is Kuchar.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: