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Players Championship 2012 Results: Matt Kuchar and Most Encouraging Performers

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Players Championship 2012 Results: Matt Kuchar and Most Encouraging Performers
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

More than enough fuss has already been made over the disappointments from The Players Championship. From Tiger Woods struggling over the weekend to Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell failing to make the cut, there's no shortage of negativity on which all the Nancys and Neds could easily seize.

But what about all the sparkling performances at TPC Sawgrass?

All told, 44 players finished in the red. In their honor then, let's have a look at three of the best performances from the weekend and what they might mean for next month's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Which primo performer is the best bet to win the US Open next month?

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Matt Kuchar

What better person with whom to start than the man who won it all?

Matt Kuchar's been on the PGA Tour since 2000 and had won six events coming into this week's tournament, but The Players Championship easily ranks as the most prestigious victory of his career, and effectively ending his two-year championship slump.

The native Floridian played the steadiest golf of anyone in Ponte Vedra Beach, shooting a pair of 68s before tacking on a 69 on Saturday and a 70 during his final round.

Anyone who's followed Kuchar this year will tell you that this win is no surprise, though. He's made the cut in all 10 events in which he's played since the calendar turned to 2012. He's finished in the top 10 in four of those, including Sunday's result and his third-place tally at the Masters.

With the way he's been swinging, don't be surprised if Kuchar emerges as a contender at the U.S. Open. 

 

Rickie Fowler

David Cannon/Getty Images

It's taken more than three years, but Rickie Fowler is finally playing like the "Next Big Thing" rather than just the Justin Bieber of golf.

Fowler followed up his win at the Wells Fargo Championship last week—his first on the PGA Tour—with a tie for second at TPC Sawgrass, including a six-under 66 on Saturday to move firmly into contention. That marked the 23-year-old's third top-10 finish in as many weeks to put his pastel-colored outfits firmly on the map.

You can bet he'll be on hand for the U.S. Open in his home state of California, though there's no word yet as to whether he'll look to go 4-for-4 in top 10s in as many weeks at the upcoming Byron Nelson.

 

Luke Donald

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Luke Donald can be and often is an easy target to pick apart. He's on track to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the world golf rankings from Rory McIlroy, but has yet to win a major to justify his lofty standing. The Englishman has picked up four top 10s and one win this year, but was never so much as within shouting distance at the Masters.

He finishes fast, as he did with his final-round 66 at The Players Championship, but tends to start slow and put himself out of the running early on, as he did with even-par 72s on Thursday and Saturday.

In any case, Donald wound up all alone in sixth at TPC Sawgrass. If he can figure out a way to play as well in the early rounds as he does late, he might finally add a major championship to his resume.

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