Okay, golf fans, if you watched the Tournament Players Championship this weekend, you know you hardly have reason to complain.
Other than Kevin Na’s “yips,” which seemed to bother co-playing partner Zach Johnson during Saturday’s third round more than it did anyone else, weren’t quite enough to keep Na from leading as they walked into the final round yesterday.
But it was Matt Kuchar (everyone on the course just yells at him, “Kooch!”) who walked away with his biggest ever title on Mother’s Day, a sweet birdie putt on the 16th at Sawgrass all but cementing his victory.
Scotland’s Martin Laird and the ever fashionable Ricky Fowler, who finally won his own first PGA Tour victory just last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, were hot on Kuchar’s heels, but they’d fallen too far away by the time they reached 16, 17, and 18, the winding hat trick of a finish at Sawgrass that includes the infamous 17 “island” green.
Zach Johnson had been on a bit of a tear of his own, starting the round at 7 under and only four behind Kuchar, eagling the par-5 second and getting to 11 under with a birdie on the par-5 16th — no Master’s par 5 layups for Johnson at Sawgrass!
But Kuchar refused to fall back to the pack.
In terms of drama, there was plenty of it, but most of that drama came from other players.
As Kuchar approached 17, the victory clearly in view, I could only pray, “Kooch, don’t slop another one in the water!” which so many others had done during the week. But no, he put it safely in the middle of the island green and two-putted for his par.
On 18, he hit a nice solid drive in the middle of the fairway (remembering there’s water all along the left side of the hole) and talked sports with his caddie as they walked up towards the green.
No biggie, Kooch seemed to be saying, but it was a biggie indeed, and elevates the well-liked Kuchar into a whole new class of the game.
Which is perfect, because it’s just in time for the coming U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. If there’s not been enough drama for you this year on the PGA Tour, I hope and expect June 14-17 at the Olympic Club to be about as much drama as a golf fan can stand.
More on that in future posts…but for now, let’s celebrate Matt Kuchar’s well-deserved and long overdue “big win” — the 33 year-old “kid’s” been at since he won the U.S. Amateur in 1998, and finally he can say he belongs in the big leagues.
And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy!