It was an 18th Hole sandie that I could watch over and over again! After 3 putting from 4-feet on #17 it looked like Matt Kuchar might be giving back yet another potential victory by struggling on the final few holes...after putting his approach shot in the bunker in front of the green on #18 it was looking like a par and a -10 finish that would most likely send Kuch to a playoff, or even yet another missed opportunity.
But just after Nick Faldo announced on the CBS coverage of the tournament that Kuchar's bunker shot looked "easy", he blasted it out and after 1 hop and about 10 feet it sailed into the hole for a birdie. It was one of my favorite Kuchar reactions ever! Hat off, fist pump, and an exclamation that looked to be something like "that's how we do it"!
Donald still had a chance to tie Kuchar at -11 with a birdie on #18 but after leaving his approach shot short and right, it would take another chip in for birdie, which was not to be.
While the chip in from the bunker was great, Kuchar's front nine 30 set him up for a final round 64 which moved him up 6 places from where he started the final round. A first round 66 gave Kuchar a share of the lead at the end of the day Thursday, but a +2 (73) on Friday dropped him back in the pack during the soggy day at Harbour Town.
The winds kicked up on the weekend and Kuchar was able to scrounge together a 70 to leave him 4 shots back of Donald's -8 lead going into Sunday.
Twitter started firing up with Kuchar's birdie run and before you knew it Kuchar was holding a share of the lead and then had it alone just a few holes later. But since Kuchar was making birdies, it wasn't hard to conclude that anyone else could get hot, too. But each player found trouble and on the back 9 some putts just didn't want to drop.
When Kuchar got to the par-3 17th and promptly stuffed it to 4 feet, it was looking like he might just run away with the plaid jacket. But as had happened several times before him, his putt stayed on the high side and slipped almost 4 feet by. He didn't rush, but with the same confidence of his first putt he hit it and it, too, slipped by the cup and before we could even comprehend him missing the first putt he carded a 3-putt bogey instead.
Now instead of being 2-shots ahead going into 18 Kuchar was instead tied with Donald who had yet to play the Par-3. At this point I'm taken back to the interview Matt did with David Feherty and remembering that if anyone could let that bogey roll off his back it would be Kuch.
His drive on 18 was down the middle but the winds were making the hole play long, so his approach shot was going to be over 200 yards. He hit his approach shot right at the pin, but it ended up in the front bunker with a good lie. In his post round interview he said that he thought it was make-able and he commented that it was important to take a full swing with the shot he had.
It was terrifically fun to see how thrilled he was with the shot, but he was going to have to wait to see if his -11 would hold up. Donald had an uphill putt on the par-3 17th, but just like many others was not able to convert his birdie even though he got a read from playing partner John Huh. And after Donald missed chipping in on 18, it was all Matt!!
While I'm sure it was nice for Matt to get that Tartan blazer and a paycheck for just over a $1 million for a week's work, for those of us Kuchar fans, it was fabulous to see that the 4th Times a Charm!!
Way to Go Matt!!
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