Matt Kuchar had the RBC Heritage all wrapped up.
And then he didn’t.
And then he did.
Beginning the final day four strokes behind leader Luke Donald, Kuchar took charge with a masterful 64 highlighted by a six-under score of 30 on the front nine. It was a near-perfect nine holes that included six birdies and three pars giving him the lead at the turn.
Although he made our hearts skip a beat toward the end, it was ultimately a display of golf we have come to expect from the 35-year-old Kuchar, a remarkably consistent elite player who always seems to be in contention to win.
The Heritage victory marks his third victory in two years and his ninth top-10 finish in 12 appearances this season. To say he is on a roll, is an understatement. In the last month alone, he has won $2.35 million.
While he may be playing the best golf on the PGA Tour, his run has not been perfect.
He gave back a potential win at the Shell Houston Open a few weeks ago when he allowed Matt Jones to snatch the trophy from him in a playoff.
It looked like Kuchar (known by this fans as their beloved “KUUUUUUUCH!”) was going to give back another one at the Heritage. Leading by one going into the 17th hole, he hit a perfect shot that rolled just a few feet from the cup. A birdie would have sealed the win over Donald, who was one shot back.
But he missed the putt and compounded his mistake by missing the short comebacker. The three-putt bogey put him into a tie with Donald, who had three holes to play and a chance to win outright.
Anyone else might have imploded at that point, banged a club at least, stared up at the sky and asked "Why?"
Instead, he has something none of those players have, a steady, unflappable demeanor that is impossible to upset.
So as he strolled to the final hole, he just flashed that ever-present Kuchar smile as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Needing a birdie to regain the lead, he striped his drive down the fairway. His approach landed short in the greenside bunker, and it looked like an outright win was out of the question.
“This is easy,” said CBS commentator Nick Faldo knowingly. Kuchar must have heard him as he knocked it out of the trap and watched it roll calmly into the cup for what was ultimately the winning shot.
You can look at Kuchar’s season so far and say he should have won more, or you can look at it and say here is a guy who is playing fantastically. You could say that about his entire career.
Why don’t you decide: In the three weeks prior to the Heritage, he finished tied for fifth at the Masters, tied for second at the Shell Houston Open and tied for fourth at the Valero Texas Open.
Is Kuchar a great closer? Perhaps not. Perhaps Tiger Woods would have won each of those if he had been in the same position.
But Tiger is out due to back surgery, so it is up to Kuchar to take the reins as one of the dominant American golfers.
Assuredly, Kuchar, who is in his 14th year as a pro, should have won a major title by now. He had a chance at last week’s Masters. That is something that he would love to have on a resume that includes four Ryder Cup appearances and 11 professional wins, including the 2012 Players Championship.
After this win, he will surely move up the world rankings, where he is currently ranked sixth, just behind Masters champ Watson.
If he continues to play at his current level, he will have his best chance yet to finally secure that coveted major this year.
We got to see Kuchar at his very best at the RBC Heritage, and for that, we should all be smiling.