You’d think after 17 seasons on the PGA Tour, closing out a win would be old hat.
Yet there was Matt Kuchar, blowing all but one shot of his overnight lead, hanging on by his fingernails before finally getting that long, elusive eighth PGA Tour win.
It’s not like Kuchar has been a prolific winner. Seven wins in 17 years means they come few and far between, but after the first three rounds down at the Mayakoba Classic, you’d think Kuch would simply cruise on Sunday to an easy victory.
Didn’t happen that way at the El Camaleon Golf Club.
Things started well enough for Kuch. A couple of front nine birdies got him to 22-under then two more at 11 and 13 saw his lead back at four. Then things got testy. He missed a six-footer for par at the 14th then three-putted 15, missing a par putt from just four feet. He looked very nervous and Danny Lee was closing in, pulling within a shot after he holed a 15-footer from the back fringe at the par three 16th. That would be as close as Lee got.
Pars by Lee at 17 and 18 left Kuch in need of a par-par-par finish and that’s exactly what he got. His nerves were tested to the end as he left himself a three-footer for victory.
“I certainly didn’t want a three-footer to win,” said Kuchar, who left his first putt from 30 feet that short of the hole.
Kuchar didn’t see this coming as his week began in Mayakoba. “Golf’s a funny game. To have a 60th (finish last week) then win the next week is pretty amazing. My 2018 season wasn’t what I wanted but I’m so excited about going to Hawaii,” said Kuchar, who earned a spot in the Tournament of Champions in January.
His family was jazzed too. His wife and children greeted him after the winning putt.
He’ll head home to Sea Island and will play in the RSM, the cross-over season’s final event.
LANGER WINS FIFTH SCHWAB CUP:
Call it total insanity but yes, Bernhard Langer did manage to win the 2018 Charles Schwab Cup.
The 61-year-old star of the Champions Tour looked totally out of the picture most of last week at Phoenix Country Club but the stars aligned for him and now he’s won the overall over-50 set’s season long race for the fifth time.
He can thank Vijay Singh, who went nuts Sunday with a 10-under par 61 to win the Schwab Tour Championship by four shots over Tim Petrovic. Singh had 10 birdies on the day and admitted he didn’t even know what he was shooting.
“I just made some early birdies and kept going. I didn’t know what I was shooting. When we finished my caddy said we were 21-under then he told me, no, we were 22-under. That was even better!”
It looked like Scott McCarron had the best chance to win. He was in the top four in the standings coming into the championship and was the 54-hole leader but a closing 72, one-over par, dropped him into a tie for third at 17-under par.
Langer picked up the $1 million bonus thanks to rounds of 66-67 over the weekend that got him a tie for 13th, good enough with the strange happenings. Scott Parel was second coming in but finished 18th at nine-under.