Matt Kuchar wins at Harbour Town

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Matt Kuchar was able to post a Sunday 64 to edge Luke Donald by one and take the 2014 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town.

What Happened

Luke Donald entered the day with the lead, but it was quickly seized by Kuchar who started his day with an opening nine 30, and at points, actually had a three-shot lead. Donald and Ben Martin would apply some pressure though, and when Kuchar got to the par-3 17th, the lead was down to one when he hit this approach:

04.20.14 kuchar 17 tee

As Kuchar went to the green, Ian Baker-Finch suggested that if he tapped that in and made par on 18, there was no chance that Donald could catch him. Well…

04.20.14 kuchar 17 putt 1 04.20.14 kuchar 17 putt 2 04.20.14 kuchar 17 putt 3

With that, what looked like a two-shot lead turned into no lead at all, and it seemedĀ like we were going to see another implosion from Kuchar, as the 18th was playing even more difficult this week than usual here at Harbour Town. After finding the bunker short of the green, Kuchar stepped up and, well…

04.20.14 kuchar holeout

When Donald failed to birdie either of the final two holes, Kuchar had a one-shot win and his first victory since the Memorial last June.

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Matt Kuchar -11
  • 2. Luke Donald -10
  • T3. Ben Martin -9
  • T3. John Huh -9

What The Win Means For Kuchar

Kuchar’s had a terrible time closing out tournaments in recent weeks, so obviously this feels good even though he needed something pretty miraculous to edge out Donald. Kuchar moves into the top-5 in the Official World Golf Rankings with the win and takes home just over $1 million for his efforts, but outside of that, nothing much is really changing here. He’s going to be on the Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles, and he’s still going to be looked at as one of the best players on the PGA Tour, with the lack of a major championship being the only thing that’s really missing from his resume.

Still though, that three-putt on 17 has me really wondering about things. The 17th at Harbour Town is one of the toughest par-3’s on the PGA Tour, but whether it’s nerves or whatever, Kuchar just doesn’t strike me as someone we should ever trust with a lead in any tournament. You can still obviously have a great career that way, Jim Furyk is living proof of that, but something just isn’t right with the way he’s playing right now.

What The Loss Means For Donald

When I watched Donald’s good friend Lee Westwood win this morning in Malaysia, it struck me right away that Donald had a similar chance to end a long winless drought and it just didn’t come together today. Yes, he won at the end of last year in Japan, but it’s been since May of 2012 that Donald won on either the European or PGA Tour, which much like Westwood, is far too long of a period for someone with his amount of talent.

Donald’s move to Chuck Cook as coach wasn’t highly publicized last year, but despite the loss today, there are positive signs here. David Feherty said it correctly on the broadcast today that Donald was playing beautifully but barfed on himself a couple of times, and it really, that’s been the case for him since the move to Cook. The good thing is that prior to switching to Cook, the beautiful parts were completely wiped away with the amount of barf, so Donald does have that going for him. He’s been swinging better, and his short game is still immaculate. Of course he would have liked to grab this win here today, but I really believe that he’s going to break that losing streak this season and make the Ryder Cup team outright, just like Westwood did today.

Photo of the Week

Patrick Reed was so far left on the 18th on Saturday, that he was right beside the Top Five boat in the Sound. You can’t make this stuff up.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 4.05.19 PM

The Nick Faldo/Josh Broadway Situation

Nick Faldo was in the field this week, as he accepted an invite with his status as a former champion, and in case you weren’t aware, Josh Broadway is a Tour player. Broadway wasn’t advocating for his own place in the event, as he was suggesting that Faldo was taking the spot of the first alternate, Hudson Swafford. I get why players would be upset about this, especially when someone like Faldo really has no chance or even interest, in contending, as he said earlier in the week that his goal was really to just make the cut.

As Ryan Kelly pointed out to me though, if you’re going to go after Faldo for this, you should really go after Tom Watson too who accepted the same invite as a former champion. Yes, Watson is slightly different in that he still competes regularly on the Champions Tour, but he’s not a PGA Tour player, and really, his logic that he was scouting Ryder Cup players this week doesn’t make any sense. His playing with Jordan Spieth and Davis Love III in the first two rounds ensured that he could closely watch two players for those two rounds, and that’s it. Spieth is already on the team and Love has no chance. If Watson really wanted to scout the field, they would have let him ride around in a cart for the week.

For the record, I get both viewpoints but I don’t really understand the outrage in this specific instance. As always in golf, if you want to make sure that you are in the field next week, make sure you play better the before.

Other Notes

  • Notables to miss the cut: Brendon de Jonge, Hunter Mahan, Tom Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Stephen Gallacher, Steven Bowditch, Nick Faldo and Russell Henley.
  • Other notable finishes: Jim Furyk (T7), Jordan Spieth and Charl Schwartzel (T12), Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer (T23), Patrick Reed (T48), Boo Weekley (T53), Zach Johnson (T61), Ernie Els (T64), Billy Horschel (T68) and Brandt Snedeker (T74).
  • Injury report:
  1. Bill Haas (WD – wrist): Haas pulled out prior to Friday’s second round, though it’s not known which wrist is causing him issues at the moment. He was the co-leader through one round in each of his last two starts before falling way down the board, so it’s possible that this has been a lingering issue.
  2. Greg Chalmers (WD – back): Chalmers couldn’t finish his opening round on Thursday due to a bad back. He’s currently scheduled to tee it up next week in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic.
  • Nicholas Thompson, Lexi’s brother, is neck and neck with Tommy Gainey for the ugliest swing on the PGA Tour.

04.20.14 thompson swing

  • Resilience of the week? This bird from Thursday’s opening round:

04.17.14 bird flag

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