Kuchar hopes year of success will carry over
Matt Kuchar worked for eight years to get back to the Masters Tournament, and what did it get him in 2010?
A lot of attention, yes, but only because he was paired in the first two rounds with Tiger Woods.
Woods was making his 2010 PGA Tour debut after a leave of absence. The pairing didn't affect Kuchar's game as he opened with 70 to Woods' 68 ("I had a nice time," he said).
A year later, Kuchar returns to Augusta National Golf Club not in a supporting role, but as an emerging PGA Tour star.
He was the tour's leading money winner in 2010 with nearly $5 million, including a victory in The Barclays. He also led the tour in top-10 finishes (11) and scoring average (69.43).
"Last year was great, and I've got confidence that I belong out here and I'm a consistent, good player," Kuchar said. "But I know that golf is a funny game. It's so much of 'what have you done lately?' "
At last year's Masters, Kuchar followed his opening 70 with rounds of 73-74-71 to finish at even-par 288 and tie for 24th place.
The 288 matched his score when he burst on the scene at Augusta National in 1998 as the U.S. Amateur champion from Georgia Tech, taking low amateur honors with a tie for 21st place. He qualified again in 1999 as an amateur (he tied for 50th) and made it in 2002 as a pro (he missed the cut).
Then came the seven-year absence before he made the field for the 2010 Masters, where his putter was on fire. He finished fifth in the field in putting with 114 putts.
"I feel like I'm a good putter, and I feel like around there if you're anything but a good putter, you're really going to struggle," Kuchar said. "I guess a lot of people struggle around those greens, and I guess I hold my own and end up looking like I putt pretty well."
Kuchar hopes the rest of his game is as strong this year at Augusta National as his putter was in 2010.
"We all try to peak at events like the Masters, but it's hard to control when you really peak," he said. "You hope to be on good form and hope your game is good enough, that week in and week out you're playing some good golf. I felt that way last year. It made me feel like I could play good almost every week. I hope the consistency is there and hope that I'm peaking that week as well."
Kuchar said he "feels closer" to the Masters than any other tournament.
"It's very special for a number of reasons," he said. "One, it seems to have the most history. It's played at the same course every year. It's not a rotating venue. You've got the Bobby Jones history, and you've got the Georgia ties from Georgia Tech to Atlanta ties. And having my time there as an amateur, I really feel it's a special place to me."
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or email@example.com.