Kuchar settles for $3 million consolation prize

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2010, 3:39 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – Matt Kuchar earned a $3 million consolation prize to go some way toward making him feel better after struggling at East Lake.

Kuchar came into the Tour Championship as the top seed, knowing he was assured of claiming the FedEx Cup and a $10 million prize if he won the season-ending event.

He was never a factor, however, tying for 25th in a 30-player field after failing to break par in any round.

“I didn’t have it this week, but I played as well as I could for 72 holes,” said Kuchar, who closed with a 1-over 71 Sunday for a 5-over 285 total.

Jim Furyk won the tournament to claim the richest payoff in golf. Because no one else in the top five finished high enough, Kuchar held on for second in the point standings to take the runner-up prize of $3 million.

Not that he had any idea what was going on, given the complex nature of the points system.

“It’s impossible to be aware of it,” Kuchar said. “Who really was aware of it? Maybe some kid in front of a computer. But certainly I was not.”

Kuchar was preparing to tee off at the final hole when thunderstorms swept into the area, leading to a two-hour break. Even then, he didn’t bother looking at the possible FedEx Cup scenarios.

“I watched football,” he said. “I had no real idea and was completely unconcerned with it today. It was not even on my radar screen. I was out there trying to hit good shots and really didn’t give the FedEx Cup one ounce of thought today.”

Kuchar conceded that he’s a little beat after playing his fourth playoff event in five weeks, but there’s no rest on the horizon.

He was off to the airport, heading to Wales to play in his first Ryder Cup, and he’s scheduled return to Georgia to play in the inaugural fall event at Sea Island the following week.

“I could use a couple down days, but I don’t get a couple of down days for a couple weeks,” Kuchar said. “I understood that. I’ve played a lot since the British Open, and I knew it was on my plate.”

WATNEY’S CHARGE: Nick Watney shot a 58 – over two days.

Watney put up a 28 on the back nine Saturday for a 7-under 63, then kept it going with a 30 on the front side Sunday – capped by a chip-in eagle at No. 9. Actually, he was an astonishing 14 under for a 20-hole stretch, going back to third-round birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.

Just when Watney seemed poised to make an unprecedented run from 28th place to claim the $10 million FedEx Cup, rain and lightning caused a two-hour delay. That seemed to sap Watney’s momentum, and he played the final nine holes at 2 over for a closing 67.

“It was the same for everyone, so no complaints,” Watney said. “I definitely lost a bit of my mojo there sitting in the clubhouse. I definitely would’ve liked to finish it off there. All in all, from where I was through seven holes (Saturday), I’ll take the finish.”

Watney kept believing he could win the big prize until right at the end.

“With a good round, you never know,” he said. “It’s a very difficult golf course. You can make up ground in a hurry, and it’s tough to play with the lead. I thought I had an outside chance, but I would’ve had to shoot something around the same score as I did” in the third round.


NA’S OUTBURST: Kevin Na let his temper get the best of him as he struggled to the finish.

Coming off a double bogey at the 17th hole, Na yanked his tee shot at No. 18 toward the grandstand left of the flag. That caused him to unleash another swing, this one in anger, that took out a huge chunk of grass in the tee box.

Na was able to take a drop, but he still wound up with a bogey for a 6-over 76, hardly the way he wanted to close after three straight rounds in the 60s.

Even though it was easy to understand Na’s frustration, his outburst drew a scolding from playing partner Paul Casey.

“He was visibly upset, wasn’t he?” Casey said. “The behavior on 18 was not good. It’s not good for the game.”


DONALD’S LAMENT: Luke Donald couldn’t help but think back to Saturday after coming up one stroke short of having a shot at $10 million.

During the third round, Donald took a double-bogey 7 at No. 15 – the easiest hole of the week at East Lake. It cost him big time when he wound up one stroke behind winner Jim Furyk.

“You can always look back to yesterday maybe, the double-bogey made on 15,” Donald said. “That was obviously disappointing, kind of got me out of the lead.”

And how did Donald make 7 on such an easy hole? An errant drive into the rough forced him to lay up in the middle of the fairway, then he pushed his third shot into a bunker alongside the green.

Donald blasted out of the sand to about 18 feet, then three-putted.

FURYK’S RECOMMENDATION: Jim Furyk made his $10 million putt with a used club he bought for $39.

After knocking in a little 2 1/2-footer to clinch the Tour Championship, Furyk gave a plug to Joe & Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop in South Easton, Mass.

Furyk has been using a heel-shafted putter he bought at the shop after the third round of the playoff event at TPC Boston. He put it in the bag for the final round of that tournament, and it’s been with him ever since.

“I guess we were meant to be,” Furyk said.

The putter retailed for $65, but he got it at a discount because it was used. There’s a nick here and a ding there, but nothing he can’t live with.

“I didn’t think it was all that pretty, to be honest with you,” Furyk said, “but it’s getting a lot better looking every day.”

DIVOTS: Tiger Woods didn’t qualify for East Lake, but he held on to his ranking as the world’s No. 1 player. Phil Mickelson, who needed to finish at least in a three-way tie for second to overtake Woods, struggled to a 74 that left him tied for 22nd. … The FedEx Cup has been settled, but the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average is still up for grabs. Matt Kuchar leads at 69.57, but he’s scheduled to play at least one of the fall events. Steve Stricker, who’s done of the year, is right on Kuchar’s heels at 69.58 and could possibly steal away the trophy from the sideline.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray

On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta

On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.