Catching up with Kooch

By Rich LernerMay 14, 2001, 4:00 pm
What is it about love and money that ties people up in knots? The world adored Matt Kuchar when he played for love not money, hammered him when he turned down the money to finish his first-rate education, and now seems to have no faith in his abilities now that he is playing for cash.

I know there have been people who say that I missed my time, he told me. They say I should have gone out and turned pro a couple of years ago.
 
Kuchar enjoyed the college life in Atlanta, and so he stayed to complete his degree at Georgia Tech. That hes picked apart for such a decision lingers as a sad statement on how professional sports have skewed a societys priorities.
 
When Kuchar failed to recapture the magic of the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open, he faded from view.
 
Sure there were times when I wasnt on top, he recalls. You know who was with you and who were your friends for the moment.
 
Matts family has long been a source of strength, but now even theyre heading in new directions. His parents, Meg and Peter, recently moved from just outside Orlando to Ponte Vedre.
 
Dad was ready for a change, Matt explained. And Mom wanted to be closer to the beach.
 
Also this spring, Matts 21 year old sister, Becky, married Michael Morris, a former University of Georgia golfer now in the real estate business in Atlanta.
 
Even though hes a Bulldog, Kooch joked of his one time rival, hes a great guy.
 
And so Matt Kuchar begins his own journey. It started in Jupiter, Florida with a job in investment banking. But the lure of golf pulled him away and late last year in Australia he turned professional with little fanfare and far from the glare of the American press.
 
Australia was an amazing experience, he said. I loved the country and loved the people.
 
Back in Jupiter, Greg Norman offered the former U.S. Amateur champ playing and practice privileges at the Sharks swank Medalist Club. Its a perk he says hell try to keep even after he makes an upcoming move back to Atlanta, where hell play out of The Golf Club of Georgia and East Lake, thanks to his relationship with Georgias first family of golf, the Yates.
 
I miss Atlanta a lot, said Kuchar. Wherever I went I was looked after and the people there have always been great to me.
 
In the meantime, hell continue to do corporate and charity outings, as well as practice.
 
I normally work out for an hour in the morning, he explained. Then Ill hit balls, play 18 and then work on some aspect of my game in the afternoon.
 
Kooch has made changes to his putting, reverting to some of the techniques he used as a kid when, like so many, he seemed to make everything he looked at.
 
I remember that I loved to watch Dave Stockton so Im going with more of a broad stance and forward press, he said.
 
The work seems to have paid off. He finished 17th at Greensboro on a sponsors exemption after having missed cuts at The Sony Open, The AT&T, and The Bellsouth. I heard more chants of Kooch at Greensboro than Id heard in a long time so it was fun, he recounted.
 
I now understand how things work, he said of the professional life. I feel like I finally prepared well for Greensboro.
 
Hell try to make enough money with his three remaining sponsors exemptions to earn a card, hoping for slots at Westchester, The Western Open and The John Deere. He also plans a couple of Buy.Com appearances and ultimately, in all likelihood, a trip to the Qualifying Tournament.
 
As for those corporate gigs, he admitted that he could make a handsome living simply trading on the popularity he cultivated as an amateur, but that obviously hes playing for more than money. Still, he laughs at the idea that hes actually getting paid for such work.
 
Playing golf and speaking is easy and fun for me, he mused. To know youre going to get a sizeable amount of money for just one day allows me in a funny way to check off some items I might need like a TV or new furniture.
 
Whats been flattering, he added, is how many times Ive gone to a draw party and been the first one selected even with a dozen other professionals there.
 
People do remember, and Kooch is betting itll pay dividends. Thats why he eschewed the established golf management firms and signed with Wilhelmena Artists, an entertainment concern with a sports division. They represent not only the likes of NBA star Stephon Marbury but Destinys Child, a red hot recording act. Matt Kuchars the only golfer in the stable.
 
Basically image branding is what they do, Kuchar said.
 
And what, Kuchar was asked, will his image be?
 
I guess the All-American kid, he conceded.
 
If thats not gritty enough for public consumption, or perhaps phony in some peoples eyes, so be it. Kuchar may have been a likeable innocent three years ago, but American appetites change quickly. And yet, theres really no discernable reason to believe that Kuchar, with the degree and the easy smile, is anything but what that image will project. The key now is winning, plain and simple.
 
Ive had so many people say to me that they think golf is ready to see me again, he said. Ive been lucky in the past that people have really taken to me so if I can get back out there I believe Ill see that great support all over again.
 
So Matt Kuchars begun navigating his way through that twisted world of love and money that is professional golf. If all goes well, this time hell have an abundance of both.
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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.