Kuchar rallies for win at RBC Heritage
He overcame four-shot deficit
MATT KUCHAR saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C., come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.
"Well," he thought as he walked toward the shot, "there are a lot worse places to be."
For Kuchar, there was no better place - and no better shot in the tournament.
He followed with a stunning chip-in on Harbour Town Golf Link's closing, lighthouse hole, to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end.
Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second place and fifth top-three finish here in the past 6 years.
Donald's latest chance ended Kuchar's winning chip. He hit it solid, felt it was a good line and watched it rattle home. "I heard the crowd go crazy," Kuchar said. "Then I went crazy."
Kuchar punched the air to celebrate, grabbed his cap and swung it around to the cheers of the crowd. It was Kuchar's seventh career PGA Tour victory. He earned $1.044 million and his first trophy since the Memorial last June. It also followed a stretch of golf where Kuchar was in contention nearly every week. He was two shots behind winner Steven Bowditch at the Texas Open on March 30, then lost a playoff at the Houston Open a week later on Matt Jones' 42-yard chip in.
Kuchar was in the mix at Augusta National a week ago, having a share of the lead on Sunday before a four-putt double bogey at the fourth hole dropped him from contention.
Kuchar, at No. 6 in the world the highest-ranked golfer here, could've taken a break like other top competitors, but hoped the momentum would carry into Harbour Town.
"It's awfully sweet to have another chance," Kuchar said.
Kuchar made up the four shots on Donald with seven birdies in his first 10 holes. Then nearly gave away another tournament when he three-putted from less than eight feet away at the par-3 17th, a bogey that dropped him into a tie for the top spot - and set up the dramatic 72nd hole.
"I was in a little bit of shock," Kuchar said. "But I think I did a good job of shaking things off."
Donald had two holes to catch Kuchar after the chip but couldn't do it. He missed a 28-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, then saw his own try at a chip-in birdie slide past the cup.
"Finishing second isn't what I was hoping for," he said. "Disappointed, obviously, not to have won. Usually a solid 69 on a windy day with a two-shot lead is enough to get it done on Sundays. It's tough to win out here and hats off to Matt for a superb round."
Donald was at 10-under 274 after his 69. Ben Martin, who turned pro in 2010, shot 67 to finish tied for third at 9 under with John Huh, who shot 68.
In other tournaments
* At Kapolei, Hawaii, Michelle Wie rallied from four strokes back entering the day to shoot a 5-under 67 and win the LPGA LOTTE Championship. The 24-year-old American finished at 14-under 274 after coming into the final round trailing third-round leader Angela Stanford by four shots after Friday's play. It was Wie's third career victory on the LPGA Tour, and first since taking the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2010.
* At Duluth, Ga., Miguel Angel Jimenez held off Bernhard Langer to win the Greater Gwinnett Championship, becoming only the third player to lead from start to finish in his Champions Tour debut. Jimenez, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters, closed with a 67 to finish two strokes ahead of Langer. Jimenez finished the tournament with 32 consecutive holes without a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf.
* At Tokyo, Japanese 15-year-old Minami Katsu became the youngest winner in the history of the Japan LPGA tour by shooting a 4-under 68 to take out the Vantelin Ladies Open.