As hot as Matt Kuchar has been the past month, his play on Sundays had been disappointing. Kuchar had no such complaints in the final round this week as after shooting 64 at the Harbour Town Golf Links and coming back from four shots down to win the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, SC.
The final round woes really started three weeks ago when Kuchar faded on Sunday and lost to Steven Bowditch in the Texas Valero Open. The next week he had a four-stroke lead after three rounds of the Shell Houston Open but was caught by Matt Jones, only to lose in a playoff. At the Masters he held the lead briefly on the final day, but dropped back after four-putting Augusta’s fourth hole.
There was certainly a difference in Sunday’s final round for Kuchar, who captured the RBC Heritage by shooting the low round of the tournament. His 64 could have been even better except for a three-putt bogey on 17. Playing under sunny skies and on greens softened by three days of moisture, the world’s No. 6 player made six birdies on the front nine to move into the lead. After a birdie at 10 and the bogey at 17, Kuchar would chip in from the sand on the final hole to finish 11 under for the tournament. As it turned out, that hole-out would prove to be the difference.
Luke Donald has experienced his own string of bad luck at the Harbour Town Golf Links. With top-three finishes in each of the previous four RBC Heritage events and holding a two-shot lead after the third round, excitement circulated around Hilton Head Island that perhaps it was Donald’s turn to finally take home the trophy. If not for a golfer named Matt Kuchar, if might have been. Donald was in and out of it at different times all day. A hook out-of-bounds on the sixth hole took him out of contention, but birdies at 7 and 9 got him back in. A bogey on 10 dimmed his hopes before birdies on 11 and 12 lit the way to possibly gaining the lead back. The best he could do was par the rest of the way, however, and second-place at 11 under par 274.
For Donald it was certainly a hard loss to take. “Sometimes you can’t control someone going really low like that,” said Donald, adding “on a windy day like this with a two-shot lead is usually good enough.” Even though the second place finish is a disappointment for the 36-year-old from England, it is certainly an improvement over his performance in the Masters where he missed the cut.
John Huh and Ben Martin tied for third at nine under, two shots behind RBC Heritage winner Matt Kuchar. Scott Brown and Brian Stuard were next at seven under par, with Jim Furyk finishing up at six under, tied for seventh with Brian Harmon. The PGA Tour moves to New Orleans next week for the Zurich Classic. The next big event for the pros is the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL May 8-11.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky