Kuchar has fond memories of Hawaii
By Bill Kwon
KAPALUA, Maui — Here's a trivia question: who among the 28 players in the SBS Championship has won the most tournaments in Hawai'i?
Must be a trick question. Even Matt Kuchar didn't know it was Matt Kuchar.
"Right on," said Kuchar when told. He won two collegiate tournaments hosted by University of Hawai'i-Hilo in 1999 and 2000 while playing for Georgia Tech.
Now the 31-year-old Kuchar hopes to win the PGA Tour's season opener offering a first-place check that's hardly trivial — $1.2 million. But, he's playing catchup to 36-hole leader Lucas Glover, who shot an 8-under 65 for a 131 total. On a day when a par lost ground and a bogey tumbled names off the leaderboard, Kuchar shot a 68—135.
"Par today was 4-under or so, I think. You had to shoot that just to keep position. These guys are good, all the best golfers last year," said Kuchar, who made the winners-only field by winning the Turning Stone Resort Championship for his first PGA victory in seven years.
"I didn't think it would take that long," said Kuchar, who won the 2002 Honda Classic and played 176 tournaments before winning again.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy but I thought I'd certainly have more than two by now. But I think this gap between wins had made the second win all that more special, knowing how difficult it is to win on the PGA Tour. Even minus the win it was a very good year. With the win it was a great year," said Kuchar, who earned $2.48 million and finished 24th on the money list — both career bests.
Kuchar still keeps in touch with Bruce Heppler, his former coach at Georgia Tech. "He's got a good team again," said Kuchar. "I had some great memories on the Big Island at Waikoloa. I remember the course was fun to play but hard because the wind would blow so hard. I shot a 74 in the final round and made up four or five strokes to win."
It was at Waikoloa where he first met Hawai'i's Parker McLachlin and became fast friends on the tour.
"Parker was playing for UCLA and Clint Begay, Noah's brother, was playing for the University of Hawai'i (Hilo)," said Kuchar. "We all played together and hit it off. It's great to see Parker out on the PGA Tour."
Bill Kwon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.