Memorial win gives Kuchar major boost for bucket list

Tuesday, 4 June 2013 00:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Matt Kuchar has been steadily ticking off his golfing ‘bucket list’ and victory at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday gave him a massive confidence boost as he eyes his top priority, winning a major title.

The tall American enhanced his status as one of the favourites for 13 to 16 June US Open as he triumphed for a sixth time on the PGA Tour, fending off a late challenge by compatriot Kevin Chappell with a closing four-under-par 68.

Winning the elite event hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus in the leafy surrounds of Muirfield Village Golf Club had long been a goal for Kuchar, and it also made him a multiple champion on the US circuit this year, another of his targets.

His last three PGA Tour victories have all come in high-profile events, a progression of success which leaves a maiden major championship as his next logical step.

“There are a couple of things I thought were missing from my pedigree, from my golf history,” a beaming Kuchar told reporters as he sat next to Nicklaus in the plush interview room at Muirfield Village. “A major championship was on the list and a multiple win season was on the list. At the beginning of the year when I set goals I wanted to have a multiple win year. To have kind of sealed the deal with winning this tournament feels really good.”

Kuchar won his first World Golf Championships title, widely regarded as just one rung down from the majors, at the Accenture Match Play Championship in February. That followed on from his triumph at last year’s Players Championship, the unofficial ‘fifth major’.

Asked if he now felt ready to win a major, he replied: “Golf’s a fickle thing. You can only control what you do. I can’t control what the other guys do. I certainly feel like I’m ready to show up and play some really good golf. I’d love it if I could show up and play good enough golf to win a major.

“It’s something that is up there, No. 1 on the list. I want to do it and feel like I’m ready to do it. But I can only control so much of that equation,” the American said, who will rise to a career-high fourth in the rankings on Monday. Kuchar is enjoying a golden run of form, having finished second at last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational in Texas, and his tie for eighth at the Masters in April also gave him a major jolt of confidence. “For me the majors certainly are more special and mean more,” the 34-year-old said. “Playing good on that late Sunday at the Masters certainly helped give me some more confidence that I can do this.

“The more comfortable you are, the better you do. The more often you’re in a situation, the more comfortable you get with that situation. Playing late at a major championship only helps you become more comfortable when that situation comes up again.”

Kuchar had to contend with a great deal of adversity at Muirfield Village with strong gusting winds for the middle two rounds and lightning-fast greens all week which exposed any weakness. He handled it all with ice-cool aplomb, a rock-solid swing ensuring he did not get blown off target during a tournament where the average score on the challenging, Nicklaus-designed layout was 73.256.

“Great golf breeds more great golf. Winning tournaments breeds more winning tournaments,” Kuchar said, who will next compete in the US Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

“Heading into Merion, I’ll have a lot of confidence. It’s a course I’ve not seen before. I think most guys will be in a similar boat in having to learn that golf course. But from what I understand you’ve got to drive it well, as you do in a US Open, and I feel like I’ve been really driving the ball well. I’m looking forward to my chances there at Merion.”