Matt Kuchar seals deal at Sony Open for second win of season

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 13: Matt Kuchar of the United States poses with the trophy after winning the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 13, 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Matt Kuchar seals deal at Sony Open for second win of season

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Matt Kuchar seals deal at Sony Open for second win of season

It was all over when Matt Kuchar walked in his 11-foot birdie putt Sunday on the 16th green at Waialae Country Club.

Kuchar gave a small fist pump as his golf ball dropped down the center of the cup, his lead over Andrew Putnam three shots large and victory all but secured at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Kuchar shot 22-under 258 for the week in Honolulu and overcame a rocky final-round start to lock up the four-shot win. After breaking a four-year winless streak at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November, Kuchar now has the second multi-win season of his career. All this just months after missing the Tour Championship for the first time since 2009.

“Certainly last year was disappointing, but to win two out of three events is crazy to comprehend,” Kuchar said. “So pleased with my game.”

It was the ninth Tour win overall for Kuchar, 40, and it came at a fitting venue. Tree-lined Waialae is one of the tightest courses on Tour and a place where accuracy still counts for something, unlike many of today’s bomber-friendly layouts.

Kuchar has finished inside the top 15 in each of his last six starts here, including four consecutive top-10s from 2011-2015.

Experience definitely counts for something and helps explain Davis Love III’s solo seventh finish at age 54, his best result since his 2015 Wyndham Championship victory. Putnam briefly held the lead in the final round and finished solo second at 18 under. Marc Leishman, Hudson Swafford, Chez Reavie and Corey Conners were T-3 at 17 under.

The win for Kuchar came amid Saturday-night allegations from current PGA Tour Champions player Tom Gillis, who tweeted that Kuchar paid a local fill-in caddie just $3,000 for his Mayakoba win. Kuchar denied the number after the third round and said the two had an agreement in place at the start of the week.

Regular caddie John Wood was back on the bag in Hawaii for the duo’s first victory since they began working together in late 2015.

Kuchar was in trouble early with bogeys on three of his first five holes. But he steadied the ship and appeared in total control with a bogey-free 30 on the back nine. There were no signs of jitters down the stretch en route to his 100th career top-10 finish on Tour.

“I tell people that nerves in golf are kind of like public speaking,” Kuchar said. “The more often you do it, the better you deal with it. They may always be there, but you get more comfortable with it.”

He’ll be very comfortable over the next few weeks, remaining in Hawaii with his family for a two-week vacation. And he’ll be back in Maui for the 2020 Tournament of Champions, suddenly a major player again and one who looks capable of vying for his first career major in the coming months.

“I feel like my game has turned into a game that can play well at any given course,” Kuchar said. “I look forward to the rest of the year to try and continue to see how great this year can be.” Gwk

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