Kuchar Slipping As He Makes Title Defense

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When Matt Kuchar, playing in his 17th PGA Tour event as a professional, held off Joey Sindelar, competing in his 522nd, to win the 2002 Honda Classic, Sindelar noted, Its going to change his golf life.
 
And so it did. Kuchar was a winner on the highest level. He had fulfilled his amateur promise, despite the professional doubts of others.
 
But nobody said everything would be peachy from there on out for the kid with the cemented smile.
 
Kuchar has played in 25 events since his maiden triumph ' hes earned two top-10s and missed 14 cuts.
 
This year, the only time he qualified for weekend play was at the season-opening Mercedes Championships, where there is no cut. Hes only played in four events, and hasnt teed it up since Pebble Beach.
 
Even his title defense will be a test, as it will come on a different venue from where he won.
 
The Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens (par-72, 7,168 yards) will play host following a six-year run at the TPC at Heron Bay in Coral Springs. Its the fifth different course used in the tournaments 31 years.
 
In addition to a shift in location, there is also a spike in prize money. The purse has been raised $1.5 million to $5 million. First place will pay out $900,000. Kuchar received $630,000 a year ago. It marks the ninth straight year the tournament has increased its purse.
 
Speaking of streaks, Kuchar, the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion, became the seventh player to make this tournament his first PGA Tour victory. He was also the sixth consecutive Florida resident to win the Honda.
 
Related Links
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full coverage of The Honda Classic