Kuchar has a lot to smile about as he chases the title in U.S. Open

  • Article by: TIM DAHLBERG , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 13, 2013 - 7:13 AM
hide

Matt Kuchar

Photo: Jay LaPrete, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

ARDMORE, Pa. — He was the smiling kid with his dad on the bag in his first U.S. Open, eager to be himself and not the guy he was following.

Matt Kuchar never expected to be the next Tiger Woods, mostly because even then he knew it wasn't possible. Winning the U.S. Amateur a year after Woods recorded his third straight amateur title got him into the 1998 Open, but it would be a long time before the two were in the same conversation again.

"I was never thinking because I won the amateur the year after Tiger that I was the next Tiger Woods," Kuchar said. "That was never something that I thought about or thought I was going to follow the same path as Tiger. I knew I had a different path that was for me."

That path was rocky at times, but Kuchar never lost faith in his talent. He rebuilt his swing, found his way back on the PGA Tour after a brief hiccup, and started contending in tournaments.

Now he's in another conversation this week at Merion Golf Club. He's joined a select few as perhaps the best player who hasn't won a major championship.

"I don't know that I'm quite in that talk yet," Kuchar said Wednesday. "I know that a lot of people have been yelling out that they have got me in their pools and they're picking me this week. But we hear a lot of that talk every week."

Perhaps Kuchar should start listening more. Coming off a win two weeks ago at Memorial — where his young son got a high five from host Jack Nicklaus when Kuchar won — he's high on a lot of lists as a possible winner at this Open.

That he's not shying away from the talk says something about how confident he is about his game.

"I feel like I'm playing some good golf," Kuchar said. "I'm looking to continue to play good golf. Certainly a major championship, a U.S. Open, is one I'm geared up for. I'm looking forward to competing and trying to put my name on this trophy."

Kuchar was still an amateur when he played his first U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1998. His father — who drew some criticism for his exuberance — was carrying his bag and on Sunday it was both Father's Day and the golfer's 20th birthday

Fans sang Happy Birthday to him and yelled "Happy Father's Day" to his father as they walked to tees, but the real highlight was a 14th place finish. It paid no money but showed Kuchar that he could compete with players a level above him.

Three years later he was a regular on the PGA Tour, making $500,000 in his rookie year. The next year he won the Honda Classic, giving him a two-year exemption on tour and marking him as one of the rising stars of the game.

Then it all started to fall apart. Kuchar began missing cuts with regularity, finally ending up in golf's minor leagues — what was then the Nationwide Tour — while he retooled his game and tried to find a swing that worked as well as the swings of players who were on the big circuit.

"I think that out here there was a definite learning curve on the PGA Tour of just being comfortable standing on the range, hitting balls next to Ernie Els or Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson and not just being in awe," 'Kuchar said. "And trying to say, 'Well, I can't hit it like that, what do I need to do to hit it like that?' "

He was a tennis player who took up golf when his mother upgraded their membership at a country club as a Christmas present. Playing better was never an issue since he quickly became one of the top — and finally THE top — amateur in the country.

Coming back on tour in 2007 he played well enough to keep his card, though barely. The next year he won $1.5 million, and the next year cracked the top 25.

Kuchar has already won twice this year, at the Match Play Championship and the Memorial, his sixth career win. He's moved to No. 4 in the world golf rankings, and hasn't missed a cut all year while averaging 69.84 strokes a round.

He's a ball striker who rarely makes mistakes, and a putter who excels on fast greens, a combination that has oddsmakers and fans lining the fairways at Merion thinking he has a good shot to win his first major this week.

"I think (the) great thing about the game of golf is there's no clear-cut favorites," Kuchar said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 56 2nd Half 3:09
Texas-El Paso 46
Hawaii 55 2nd Half
Chaminade 32
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close