Mr. Consistent: Kuchar expects to be in Players mix


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Matt Kuchar has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour for several years, but in recent weeks he’s taken things to another level.

Kuchar enters The Players Championship after a streak of four consecutive starts in which he held at least a share of the lead during the final round. That stretch included top-five finishes at the Valero Texas Open and the Masters sandwiched around a playoff loss at the Shell Houston Open.

In his most recent start, though, Kuchar returned to the winner’s circle, holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to finish one stroke clear of Luke Donald at the Heritage.

“You could probably tell by my emotion after holing that bunker shot that I had a lot of close calls. I was just a little bit frustrated,” Kuchar said Wednesday. “When the bunker shot went in, I was just so relieved and so excited that it finally did work out.”

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Now back inside the top five in the world rankings, Kuchar returns this week to an event that he won just two years ago. Buoyed by his recent run of good play, the 35-year-old embraces his reputation as one of the game’s steadiest players.

“It’s what I’ve tried to build my game to be,” said Kuchar, who has eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season. “I’ve tried to build my game to be consistent, play good golf week in and week out. It’s a tough thing, we all know that. The game of golf is a challenging game. You can wake up the next morning and go, ‘What happened? I thought I had it?’”

With world No. 1 and defending Players champion Tiger Woods not in the field, Kuchar is relishing the temporary promotion he received within the portion of the parking lot reserved for past champions at TPC Sawgrass.

“It’s awfully nice that Tiger’s not here,” Kuchar joked. “I got the first parking spot still, which makes me feel like I’m defending champion when I pull in.”