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Defending champ Kuchar contending at Heritage

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Matt Kuchar doesn't appear ready to relinquish the tartan jacket.

A year after winning the RBC Heritage with a dramatic hole-out on the 72nd hole, Kuchar is again near the leaderboard at Harbour Town after rounds of 68 and 66.

Kuchar began the day two shots behind Graeme McDowell and Matt Every. While he was unable to keep pace with playing partner Jordan Spieth, who carded a second-round 62, Kuchar played well enough to move one ahead of McDowell before he was passed by Troy Merritt, who took a four-shot lead over Kuchar with a course record-tying 61.

"Got off to a really nice start. Played a bunch of good holes, then the final few holes I was kind of hanging on. Made a couple good up-and-downs to save par," Kuchar said. "Five under on this course is awfully nice playing. Kind of felt pretty average watching Jordan Spieth's 9 under, that was really impressive."

Kuchar and Spieth combined for 15 birdies during the second round, and the veteran believes there is credibility to the theory that players can feed off of one another when playing in the same group.

"It seems to happen more often than just being a coincidence. I think there must be something to it," Kuchar said. "Jordan had it going, I had it going. It was a fun day out there."

Kuchar remains one of the Tour's most solid performers, but he has hit a bit of a lull in recent weeks. He ballooned to a final-round 78 at the Shell Houston Open and was never a factor at the Masters, where he failed to break par in any round en route to a T-46 finish. Kuchar has seven top-25 finishes in 11 starts this season, but he hasn't had a top-10 since finishing T-2 at the Humana Challenge in January.

Those trends appear on the verge of reversing this week in South Carolina, where Kuchar made six birdies in the second round. He has hit 26 of 36 greens in regulation, despite Harbour Town's notoriously small targets, and through 36 holes his lone mistakes have come at the par-3 seventh hole, which he has bogeyed both days.