Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kuchar wins with hole-out

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.—Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck five-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.
“Well,” he thought as he walked toward the shot, “there are a lot worse places to be.”

For Kuchar, there was no better place—and no better shot in the tournament.
He followed with a stunning hole-out on Harbour Town Golf Link’s closing lighthouse hole to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end.
Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second-place and fifth top-three finish here in the past six years.
Donald’s latest chance ended on Kuchar’s winning shot. He hit it solid, felt it was a good line, and watched it rattle home.
“I heard the crowd go crazy,” Kuchar said. “Then I went crazy.”
Kuchar punched the air to celebrate, grabbed his cap, and swung it around to the cheers of the crowd.
It was Kuchar’s seventh career PGA Tour victory, but his first since the Memorial last June.
It also followed a stretch of golf were Kuchar was in contention nearly every week.
He was two shots behind winner Steven Bowditch at the Texas Open on March 30, then lost a playoff at the Houston Open a week later on Matt Jones’ 42-yard chip in.
Kuchar then was in the mix at Augusta National a week ago—having a share of the lead on Sunday before a four-putt double-bogey at the fourth hole dropped him from contention.
Kuchar, at No. 6 in the world the highest-ranked golfer here, could have taken a break like other top competitors, but hoped the momentum would carry into Harbour Town.
“It’s awfully sweet to have another chance,” Kuchar said.
Kuchar made up the four shots on Donald with seven birdies in his first 10 holes.
Then nearly gave away another tournament when he three-putted from less than eight feet away at the par-three 17th—a bogey that dropped him into a tie for the top spot and set up the dramatic 72nd hole.
Donald had two holes to catch Kuchar but couldn’t do it. He missed a 28-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, then saw his try at a chip-in birdie slide past the cup.
Donald was at 10-under 274 after his 69.
Ben Martin, who turned pro in 2010, shot 67 yesterday to finish tied for third at nine-under with John Huh, who shot 68.

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