I pulled up Matt Kuchar's stats Sunday morning to get a look at what this man was doing well and how he has been able to put himself to number three in the Fed Ex Cup standings (prior to the end of the Memorial). As I poured over Kuchar's stats, one thing became abundantly clear. Matt is not exceptionally long or straight, not great in greens in regulation - but he finds a way to get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than most others. And when you get down to the basics - that's what championship golf is all about.
Kuchar's greatest strengths all relate to scoring. He can scramble well when he needs to, he makes the birdie putts when he has the chance and he's not afraid to go low. In other words, Kuchar is the consumate scorer, he's tremendous at avoiding mistakes and dangerous areas and he's exceptional at taking advantage when the situation allows. It's a careful, measured, methodical way to get around the course - something all golfers could learn from. If someone was going to catch Kutchar on Sunday, when he started with a two shot lead, they were going to have to low on a hard, Jack Nicklaus course that normally does not allow for real low scoring. Today's lesson learned will be about making a plan for a round and following through with that plan.
Matt knew that he had two shots in his pocket when he stepped up on the number one tee. You could see from the beginning that Matt's plan was to keep the ball in the fairway as much as possible - even so much as hitting hybrid off the Par 5 7th, which was an usual play for these pros, but allowed him to hit the green in three with a comfortable yardage, which led to a tap in birdie. For those trying to catch him, they would have to be exceptional - he was not going to come back to them.
Matt followed this game plan, hitting good tee shots to the widest parts of the fairways, hitting 13 of 14 fairways. Shooting for the middle of the greens, Matt hit 14 Greens in Regulation in a row, while hitting 16 of 18 for the day. This game plan gave him the best chances to make putts and keep his lead. His only mistakes were 2 three putts.
Having a good game plan allowed Matt to withstand a nice run from Kevin Chappell late in the round, but hitting shots from the fairway and having putts made for a fairly stress free day. Remember the next time you play a round of golf. Hit to the largest parts of parts on the course, keep from making a huge mistake, take your medicine when confronted with some trouble and I think you will see a fairly simple round of golf and a lower score.
Craig Renshaw is a PGA Teaching Professional at the Legacy Golf Performance Center in Phoenix, Arizona at the Legacy Golf Resort. You can contact Craig at Crenshaw@raspberrygolfacademy.com