Kuchar claims playoff win at The Barclays

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2010, 2:30 am

the Barclays Logo 2007

PARAMUS, N.J. – Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods are happy about where they’re going, even if the itinerary is entirely different.

Kuchar won The Barclays with a sensational shot out of the rough to beat Martin Laird with a birdie in a playoff. The victory assures he will be at East Lake in Atlanta – which the Georgia Tech grad considers a home course – to play the Tour Championship for the first time.

Woods tied for 12th and gets to go to Boston for the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar and son Carson pose with The Barclays trophy. (Getty Images)

A small step for one, a giant leap for another.

“There’s nothing like the feeling of winning,” said Kuchar, who moved up to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings, No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list and a career-best No. 10 in the world ranking. “You feel like you’re the best player in the world for this week.”

And he was, with help from Laird, who needed only two putts from just inside 25 feet to win on the final hole.

Woods hasn’t won in more than nine months, a strange sensation for a guy with 82 wins around the world. His primary goal Sunday was to do well enough to move inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings to qualify for the second round of the playoffs at the TPC Boston. He shot a 67 – the first time since the Masters that he broke 70 in the final round – and moved from No. 112 to No. 65.

Better yet, he thinks a victory might not be far away.

“I haven’t won all year,” Woods said. “But this is a week that I was very close. I felt that if I would have putted better for all four days, I would have been right there. Looking forward to next week.”

Kuchar was having his best year on the PGA Tour, missing only a victory. It didn’t look as though that would change at Ridgewood.

Having closed with a 5-under 66, playing his final 24 holes in regulation without a bogey, he headed for the practice range in case it was good enough to force a playoff. Laird took the lead with a birdie on the par-5 17th, then made a terrific escape out of the rough and under the trees to just inside 25 feet above the hole.

“Once he hit that great shot just to the back fringe on 18, I was pretty much shutting down my practice sessions,” Kuchar said. “I went over and was just a spectator, thinking that he’s got this wrapped up.”

It all changed so suddenly.

Laird ran his putt 7 feet by the hole and missed the comeback putt for par. Then came the shot that got these FedEx Cup playoffs off to a rousing start – a 7-iron from 192 yards out of the rough that scooted through the green, caught the back ramp, turned to the left toward the hole and settled 30 inches away for the winning birdie.

It changed the outcome of the tournament, and Kuchar’s perspective on the year.

“I knew if I put myself in contention enough times I was going to break through,” Kuchar said. “And I’m awfully excited to have it here at the Barclays. It’s a great place, the start of our FedEx Cup playoffs. I don’t know if I would put many events much higher on the list.”

Kuchar is assured of going to East Lake, and now has a decent shot at winning the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.

Along the way, he got a little training for the Ryder Cup.

Winning sure helps. Kuchar and Jeff Overton are the only Americans among the eight who earned their way onto the team who have not won this year, and the 32-year-old is sure to get a shot of confidence leading up to the Oct. 1-3 matches in Wales.

The way he won can only help.

He hopped in a cart with rules official Mark Russell, the crowd chanting and cheers.

“I told him, ‘This is great prep for the Ryder Cup,”’ Kuchar said. “I’m in a match play situation, I’ve got a playoff and I’ve got people going crazy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put that in the memory bank and go with it come Ryder Cup time.”

Plus, he was playing a European – Laird is a 27-year-old from Scotland.

Laird had a five-shot lead early on when he started with two birdies, but a double bogey on the par-5 third hole sent him tumbling back to the pack, and a half-dozen others entertained thoughts of winning. That included Dustin Johnson, who was still in the hunt until missing an 8-foot birdie on the 15th, then making bogeys on the next two holes in a desperate attempt to catch up. He shot 72.

Laird recovered, though, and he was tied with Kuchar when he had a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th, only to roll it nearly 8 feet beyond the hole. He made that birdie putt to take the lead. Faced with a similar situation – this time needing two putts for the win – Laird repeated his mistake and this time didn’t escape.

“Obviously, not the finish I was looking for,” said Laird, who shot a 71. “But I’m very proud of the way I played today. “I was kind of battling all day, and probably holed two or three of the biggest putts I’ve ever holed just to be where I was.”

The only consolation for Laird was being safe through next month in the playoffs. He was at No. 95, hopeful of advancing to the second round, and his runner-up finish puts him at No. 3 and virtually guarantees he’ll be among the top 30 at the Tour Championship.

As for Woods, he can only hope he makes it to Atlanta.

His tie for 12th – the highest for him since a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open – gives him a good chance of staying in the top 70 who go to the third round at Cog Hill outside Chicago. Only the top 30 make it to Atlanta, but Woods at least is going in the right direction.

“The next three events, the next three venues, I’ve won on,” Woods said, referring to past victories at the TPC Boston, Cog Hill and East Lake. “So I’m going to three venues I’m very familiar with, and I’m looking forward to it.”

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.

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Davies sweeps senior majors with Sr. LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''


Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship


Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

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For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote GolfChannel.com in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”