Matt Kuchar's Sunday Afternoon Troubles Continue Despite Win at RBC Heritage

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2014

Matt Kuchar celebrates a birdie out of the bunker on the 18th green to win the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sunday, April 20, 2014. Kuchar won the tournament with 11-under par. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Stephen B. Morton

At first glance, most would assume that Matt Kuchar was finally able to rid himself of his Sunday afternoon demons with a final-round score of 64 at Harbour Town Golf Links, which included a birdie on the 72nd hole to secure his first victory since last June.

However, when looking just below the surface of Kuchar’s RBC Heritage victory, it becomes evident that those pesky Sunday afternoon demons are still very much present in Kuchar’s game.

Kuchar got off to a lightning-fast start with birdies on six of his first nine holes and then threw in a birdie at the 10th to go seven under par for the day and 11 under par for the tournament.

Kuchar pared holes 11-14 before his road to victory began hitting a few speed bumps on the par-five 15th.

He pulled his tee shot left on 15 and then pushed his second shot into the gallery right of the fairway. Three strokes later, Kuchar managed to escape the 15th with a par-five.

He then pushed his tee shot well right on the par-four 16th and was extremely lucky to have a clear window to the green for his approach shot.

Following a par at the 16th, Kuchar knocked his tee shot on the par-three 17th to within four feet of the hole and then proceeded to three-putt for a shocking bogey four.

He found the fairway with his tee shot on 18 but then found the bunker well short of the green with his approach shot.

Luckily for Kuchar, his bunker shot caught the right side of the cup and fell into the hole for a miraculous birdie three rather than rolling on by and leaving him with a good four to five feet left to avoid finishing his round with two consecutive bogeys.

Kuchar’s Sunday afternoon woes have made headlines in recent weeks but have really been plaguing him since last November.

Half a world away from Hilton Head Island, S.C., Kuchar had a two-stroke lead on Adam Scott during the final round of the 2013 Australian Masters only to finish with a bogey on the 16th and a double bogey on the 17th to hand Scott a two-stroke victory.

Just a week after Kuchar’s meltdown at the Australian Masters, he was right in the mix heading into the back nine at the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Four bogeys later, and Kuchar wound up finishing four strokes behind tournament champion Jason Day.

Three weeks ago, Kuchar shot a 65 during the third round of the Valero Texas Open to pull within three strokes of tournament leader Steven Bowditch. Bowditch left the door wide open for Kuchar and several other pursuers on Sunday by posting a final-round 76, but Kuchar was able to post no better than a 75, which was a full 10 strokes higher than his score just 24 hours earlier.

Two weeks ago, Kuchar held a one-stroke lead heading to the 72nd hole of the Houston Open only to pull his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the pond left of the green. He managed to make a bogey and force a sudden-death playoff with Matt Jones.

Kuchar again found the middle of the fairway with his tee shot on the 18th (the first hole of the playoff) but nearly shanked his approach shot into the bunker right of the green. Kuchar was ultimately defeated when Jones holed out his chip shot for a birdie and Kuchar was unable to match Jones’ heroics with his bunker shot.

Last Sunday, Kuchar birdied the second and third holes at Augusta National to pull into a tie for the lead with Jordan Spieth. Kuchar responded to his name appearing on top of the Masters leaderboard with a double bogey on the par-three fourth and by playing his final 15 holes in four over par.

Kuchar would eventually finish in a tie for sixth at the Masters, six strokes behind tournament champion Bubba Watson.

There are no pictures on the scorecard. At the end of the day, Kuchar posted a final-round 64, which included a birdie at the 72nd hole, to defeat Luke Donald by one stroke at the RBC Heritage.

However, if scorecards did contain pictures, it would be quite easy to see that although Kuchar may have taken a step toward ridding himself of those troublesome Sunday afternoon demons, his path to closing the door on the field was, once again, anything but easy.