Hot off Masters T-3, Kuchar ready for RBC

By Associated PressApril 11, 2012, 7:29 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Matt Kuchar wasn't smiling much Sunday night after his near miss at the Masters last week.

The world's 14th-ranked golfer had hoped a night in his own bed would prepare him for this week's RBC Heritage. Instead, Kuchar replayed the most critical shots of the round as he tied for the lead with three holes left, then gave it away with a bogey on the par-3 16th.

Kuchar, who gained his nice-guy reputation with his megawatt smile as a college golfer at Augusta National 14 years ago, finished in a tie for third behind Masters champion Bubba Watson.

''It was just not an easy night's sleep,'' Kuchar said.

Kuchar, though, woke up refreshed and ready for the next challenge which starts Thursday at Harbour Town Golf Links. Kuchar says he's learned not to spend much time looking back

''It's not real helpful to look at Monday morning's paper and say, 'What if I played just one shot better or two shots better,''' he said.

Kuchar and world No. 1 Luke Donald are among four of the top-20 ranked golfers teeing off at the rechristened RBC Heritage, which is on solid financial footing after two years of uncertainty. Watson, along with most of the other Masters competitors, is taking the week off.

Not Kuchar, who says he's just as excited about Harbour Town as he was for Augusta. That's how he's conducted himself since turning pro and he thinks it's helped him succeed on the PGA Tour.

''I want to win this tournament,'' Kuchar said. ''And the more I can make every tournament really important, I think it makes prep for the majors much easier.''

Kuchar understands what a Masters victory would've meant.

''It was an exciting place to have a chance,'' Kuchar said. ''I kept replaying in my mind all the great shots. And then the couple missed opportunities.''

Kuchar was a wide-eyed amateur from Georgia Tech when he made the cut at Augusta National in 1998 and 1999. He hadn't cracked the top 20 in his three Masters appearances before last week, but found himself tied for the lead Sunday when he knocked in a short eagle putt on the 15th hole.

Kuchar, who earned $9 million in 2010 and 2011, sent his tee shot right of the green on the 16th hole, could not get up and down and made a bogey that ultimately dropped him from contention. Kuchar's most regrettable error, he said, was a double bogey on the ninth. He chipped his third shot seven feet past the hold and three-putted.

''I think that chip shot is one that I know I can improve immensely upon,'' he said.

Donald hopes to improve his showing at Harbour Town. He was third here in 2010, then lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff last year when a tournament victory would've elevated him to No. 1. Donald subsequently reached that spot and, with No. 2 Rory McIlroy, No. 3 Lee Westwood and No. 4 Watson all off, is fairly secure on top, win or lose this week.

Donald had hoped to shed his mantle of one of the game's best players without a major at Augusta. But he had rounds of 75, 73 and 75 the first three days and finished tied for 32nd.

Now, Donald can concentrate on getting back to the successful golf that won him the Transitions Championship in Tampa, Fla., last month. Donald said the key here, as always, is hitting some of the smallest greens on the PGA Tour.

''Because of that you need a good short game,'' he said.

Webb Simpson (No. 13) and Bill Haas (No. 18) are the other golfers in the top 20 competing at Harbour Town.

It will be hard for anyone to follow Watson's drama-filled run to the green jacket. He seemingly had played himself out of the tournament on the second playoff hole with a tee shot way right into the trees on No. 10. Watson, though, hooked his approach onto the green and two-putted to defeat Louis Oosthuizen.

Watson likely earned as many fans for his emotional showing after the final putt dropped. He broke down in tears almost instantly and continued to cry on his mother's shoulders on the 10th green.

Aaron Baddeley, one of Watson's close friends, said the display was just Bubba being Bubba.

''Bubba wears his heart on his sleeve for everyone to see,'' said Baddeley, the 2006 RBC Heritage winner who stuck around to hug Watson after the Masters win.

Kuchar, Donald and the rest almost didn't have a tournament to come to before RBC and The Boeing Co. joined forces to back the event the next five years. Boeing is the RBC Heritage's presenting sponsor.

''There's a whole new excitement for the tournament,'' Snedeker said.

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Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”

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Woods on busy schedule: 'It's about pacing myself'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

At the beginning of the year, Tiger Woods was anxious to see how his fused back would hold up to tournament play.

Now he’s in the midst of one of his busiest stretches in years.

With the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup likely to be added to his schedule over the next few weeks, Woods could play seven events in a nine-week span.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


“That is a lot of golf,” he said Tuesday at The Northern Trust. “It’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it and make sure my training schedule goes well.

“One of the hardest things this year has been finding the right balance. As the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better. This is a pretty important stretch.”

Woods has already played 14 events – his most since 2013, when he had 16 starts.

He’s committed to playing the first three playoff events, beginning with this week’s event in New Jersey. There’s a week off after the BMW Championship, and at No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Woods doesn’t need to do much to punch his ticket to East Lake. He’s also virtually assured of being a U.S. captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, held in France the week after the Tour Championship.

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Tiger Tracker: The Northern Trust

By Tiger TrackerAugust 21, 2018, 1:00 pm

Tiger Woods begins his FedExCup Playoffs run at this week's Northern Trust. We're tracking him at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.


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Stock Watch: Will Bjorn buy or sell slumping Sergio?

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Sneds (+9%): It doesn’t always happen, a Tour player shooting 59 and then finishing it off with a W, so it was satisfying to watch Brandt Snedeker go wire to wire at the Wyndham. An in-form Sneds now should edge out Kevin Kisner for one of Jim Furyk’s final captain picks.

Viktor Hovland (+6%): Watching the Oklahoma State junior maul the field at the U.S. Amateur, a question arose: How does the fifth-ranked player in the world not win more often? The U.S. Am was just his second title, anywhere, outside of Norway. That could all change, after he proved to himself that he could handle the best field and the stiffest challenge.

Lexi (+4%): She once again was penalized – for playing preferred lies in a different fairway – but Thompson still shot 17 under and tied for 12th in her first start since a self-imposed break to recharge her batteries. In the media tent she was refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a 23-year-old superstar who never went to college and whose life is consumed by golf. Here’s hoping she can find a better balance (like, say, Michelle Wie) over the next few years.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): The world rankings don’t reflect it, but McCumber is playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now. In his past four starts on the Canadian circuit, he’s gone win-win-3rd-win and shot 90 under par with a scoring average of 65.88 and just two rounds higher than 68.

Nick Taylor (+1%): Playing for his Tour card, Taylor shot a bogey-free 63 Sunday at the Wyndham – with an eagle and birdie in his last four holes – to jump from 129th to 119th in the standings. That’s clutch.


FALLING

Billy Hurley III (-1%): A winner two years ago at Tiger’s event, Hurley is now headed back to second stage of Web.com Q-School after finishing 201st in the standings – by a point. A tough break for one of the game’s good dudes.

Kevin Stadler (-2%): He reminded us of the dangers of slamming clubs, after the head of his 7-iron flew off and struck a spectator in the head, requiring stitches. It was a scary scene – “It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood,” said playing partner Shaun Micheel – that could have been even worse.

Sepp Straka (-3%): There were plenty of stories of heartbreak at the Web.com Tour regular-season finale, perhaps none as crushing as Straka, who went 5 over for his last seven holes (including three consecutive bogeys to finish) to drop outside of the top-25 bubble.

Sergio (-4%): At last, some signs of life – his tie for 24th in Greensboro was his best finish on Tour since March – but he still didn’t make the playoffs, and it still might not be enough to sway Thomas Bjorn. For the captain it may come down to a question like this: Who would you rather have in Paris, Sergio or Russell Knox?