5 Things: Kuchar's hole-out secures RBC Heritage win
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Matt Kuchar was tired of seeing the dramatics from everyone else and provided his own fireworks on Sunday at the RBC Heritage.
The Georgia Tech product improbably holed out for birdie from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to take a one-shot lead that would hold up down the stretch, securing his first victory of the 2014 season.
Kuchar's victory comes after three consecutive top-5 performances – including holding or sharing the final-round lead the past two weeks at the Masters or Shell Houston Open.
Here are 5 Things to know after Kuchar's 7-under 64 on Sunday gave him a one-shot victory over Luke Donald:
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1. ABOUT TIME: Matt Kuchar's 2014 resume was quite impressive heading into this week – a second, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth and a ninth.
So it could be said that he was overdue for the victory on Sunday.
Kuchar did his damage early at Harbour Town, picking up birdies on four of his first six holes and seven in his first 10 holes – giving him a share of the lead that he'd never relinquish.
It looked to be slipping away on the 17th after an incredible tee shot to 4 feet at the par 3. But he failed to even hit the hole on his birdie attempt and then lipped out on the 3-foot comebacker, picking up an ill-timed bogey to fall back to 10 under and in a share of the lead with Luke Donald.
Did thoughts of his recent Sundays creep into his mind?
"That didn't cross my mind. I didn't go, man, this is four weeks in a row I might not win a tournament. That's not part of the deal. I've got 18 to play. So I think just having had the 18th hole still out there, my focus went solely to that," said Kuchar.
He hit what he called "his best" drive of the week at 18, but his second shot came up short of the green and in a bunker, yet Kuchar didn't seemed overly concerned.
"I told (his caddie) I was about due to make one of these," said Kuchar in a post-round interview on CBS. "It was cool to see that thing disappear."
It is Kuchar's seventh career PGA Tour victory and first since the Memorial in June 2013. He also moves from 11th to third in the FedEx Cup standings.
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2. DONALD'S DOUBLE: While many will look at Luke Donald's missed green in regulation on 18 as his fateful moment, the Englishman will likely look back at his double bogey on No. 6 as the moment where he left the door open for Kuchar's comeback.
Donald sent his tee ball on the par 4 into the trees, had to take a penalty shot and re-tee, where he found the fairway and left himself just over 130 yards into the green. He stuck his fourth shot to 12 feet, but failed to save bogey and lost the outright lead that he'd never regain.
"(On the sixth hole) I got a gust of wind just on my backswing, kind of pushed me backwards, and I kind of overcompensated. It was just one of those things," said Donald, who did manage to battle back and post a 2-under 69.
Harbour Town seems to agree with Donald, as he has finished inside the top 3 in four of his last five appearances at the event.
"Disappointing, obviously, not to have won. Usually a solid 69 on a windy day with a two‑shot lead is usually enough to get it done on Sundays, but obviously a lot of great players," said Donald. "It's tough to win out here, and hats off to Matt for a superb round. 64 was tough going in those conditions, with tough hole conditions out there."
Donald has finished runner-up 13 times in his Tour career. He has only converted on 2 of 9 chances when holding or sharing the 54-hole lead.
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3. AMATEUR DELIGHT: Matthew Fitzpatrick wasn't a household name a mere 10 days ago – but the 19-year-old Englishman is starting to open eyes all over the golf world.
The 2013 U.S. Amateur champ came up a shot short of making the cut at the Masters, narrowly missing a birdie putt on No. 18 to secure a spot in weekend play.
This week, he showed his mettle by being par or better in each round, carding his third even-par 71 on Sunday with 18 pars on his card – capping off a bogey-free weekend with a 20-footer to save par on 18 Sunday.
He finished the tournament at 2 under, good for a T-23 finish at Harbour Town.
Fitzpatrick, ranked No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings behind soon-to-be pro Patrick Rodgers, had three bogeys, two double-bogeys and nine birdies on the week.
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4. INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Of the 78 players that made the cut this week, 33 managed to post under-par rounds on Sunday despite the blustery conditions at Harbour Town.
Leading the charge were Kuchar and Pat Perez, who both posted 7-under 64s.
How good was a 64? Two shots better than anyone else in the field, as William McGirt shot his second 66 of the tournament on Sunday.
Only 30 players finished the tournament under par.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: A week after taking the world by storm on Sunday at Augusta National, Jordan Spieth posted a 4-under 67 to finish at 4 under for the tournament, good for a T-12 finish . . . Nicholas Thompson moved to within a shot of the lead with a birdie on No. 10 on Sunday, but posted three bogeys and a double bogey over his final eight holes to fire a 1-over 72 and finish T-12. Thompson is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory . . . Defending champ Graeme McDowell fired a 1-under 70 to finish T-23 . . . Brandt Snedeker failed to break par this week, finishing at 8 over for the tournament . . . 18-hole co-leader Scott Langley posted rounds of 73-75-71 to finish T-38.