After dealing with the pressure that comes with playing in the U.S. Open, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson were able to relax Monday at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic at Rhode Island Country Club.
Kuchar rolled in a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole to give his team a record-tying 13-under 58 and a one-stroke lead over defending champions J.B. Holmes and Rickey Barnes in the two-day exhibition played with a best-ball format.
“I was tired … I was beat up,” Kuchar said. “The U.S. Open takes its toll and then traveling and getting in last night at midnight. It was nice to be able to come out here and have some fun.”
The concept of “having fun” for Kuchar and Johnson equated to sinking a total of 12 birdies, including on each of the last three holes.
Holmes and Barnes shot par on the same holes.
“Zach was the leader in the group,” Kuchar said. “He was playing some solid golf. But I filled in on 17 and 18 (Kucher birdied those holes). I helped out here and there but it was a pretty solid team effort.”
Kuchar, who tied for 14th at the U.S. Open, combined with Johnson to birdie the first four holes on the back nine, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.
“The key in this sort of format is to give your team two good opportunities,” said Johnson, who tied for 50th at the Open. “You don’t have to stuff it down every hole.
“We both hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and made some putts. Thirteen under is pretty good. It was a nice way to start.”
The lone eagle in the tournament was recorded by LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who sank a 10-foot putt on the par-4, 333-yard sixth hole.
“It’s fun to make birdies,” Johnson said. “I love this type of tournament … a team event. You can botch a hole and you have a partner who can bail you out.”