Matt Kuchar claimed his first title since April 2014 with a one shot victory at the Mayakoba Classic – and he did it without his regular caddie
Earlier in the week Matt Kuchar decided to hire a local caddie, whose nickname is ‘El Tucan’. It was a move that paid off in spades as Kuchar completed a wire-to-wire victory in Mexico for his eighth PGA Tour win and first since the 2014 RBC Heritage.
“I’m awfully excited,” Kuchar said. “My 2018 wasn’t what I wanted out of 2018, but this is certainly a high note. This is an amazing thing, to get a win in Mexico, to go from Hola to Alaho (Aloha), going to Hawaii, can’t wait to go. I am so excited about that.”
It was a fitting end to Sunday as Kuchar became the second player to win their first title since the 20th April 2014, following Lee Westwood’s triumph at the Nedbank Golf Challenge earlier in the day.
40-year old Kuchar had begun the day with a four-shot lead, but despite two birdies on his opening nine he found himself being chased down by Danny Lee, who reduced the gap to two by the turn.
Lee, who was playing in the group ahead, notched up two more gains at the 12th and 13th holes but was matched by Kuchar, who added birdies of his own at 11 and 13 to keep his nearest challenger at bay.
Kuchar briefly lost his composure for a spell of back-to-back bogeys from the 14th, but Lee had missed his own costly par-save on 15 hole to keep the defecit at two shots.
Lee still looked to be an increasing threat after rolling in a 25-footer fo birdie on the 16th hole to move to within one, and Kuchar’s chance at a reply soon after was a fraction short before he raced another chance at a birdie by the hole on 17.
With one more chance from 20 feet up on the 18th, Lee failed to find his much needed birdie and Kuchar was able to hold his nerve and par his way in for a 2-under 69 and victory.
“It was tough,” Kuchar said of his win. “Not as many scoreboards as probably a typical PGA (Tour) event. … I certainly didn’t want a 3-footer on the last hole to win this thing, I was hoping to have a three-, four-shot lead and some wiggle room, but man that one felt awfully good.
“I was hitting it beautifully. I felt really good. It was just a matter of having some putts go in. Golf’s such a funny game, it’s hard to predict when it’s going to come around. Normally I tend to gradually grow bit by bit and have a couple top 10s and then contend, but to have a 60th-place finish and then a win, pretty amazing.”
Kuchar’s victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic sees him jump from World No. 40 to World No.29, and he’s already looking ahead towards the major season.
“I aspire to make Presidents Cup, I aspire to make the TOUR Championship, I aspire to win multiple times in the ’18-’19 season,” Kuchar said. “A major’s still on my list. Those are all goals for me and I think this will help leapfrog that. That confidence because of winning a tournament hopefully propels me to a great ’19.”
As for his first-time caddie, Kuchar was full of compliments.
“He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”
“I’m so happy, full of emotion,” the 40-year-old El Tucan said in Spanish. “We were very solid to achieve our objective. We went step by step, getting more birdies.”
WITB: Matt Kuchar
Bridgestone Tour B JGR (9.5 degrees), Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec 6S
Titleist TS2 (13.5 degrees), Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 757 X
Bridgestone Tour B XD-H (18 degrees), Ping Anser (20), Shafts: Fujikura Motore Speeder TS 8.8 X
Bridgestone J15CB (5-PW), Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 S300 (soft stepped)
Bridgestone J40 Forged (52 degrees, bent to 51);
Cleveland RTX-4 (58 bent to 57, 64 bent to 63 degrees)
Bettinardi Kuchar Model 1 Arm Lock (400 grams, 3 degrees loft, 71 degrees lie, 40.5″)
Bridgestone Tour B X