Kuchar again in contention, looking to close
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Matt Kuchar has been in this position before. This time he hopes the results are a little more favorable.
The popular Georgia Tech grad shot a 66 on Friday and is tied for second, two shots off the lead, at the midway point of the PGA Championship. It’s very similar to the 2010 PGA Championship, when he was the leader after the first and second rounds. That year he couldn’t close the deal, settling for a tie for 10th at Whistling Straits.
That was when Kuchar was still in the process of proving himself. Since then he’s played on two Ryder Cup teams, won the Players Championship, won a World Golf Championship event and has risen to No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s among a handful of players mentioned when the topic of “best player without a major championship” is discussed.
“I’m playing some great golf,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic season.”
Kuchar will start the third round at 7-under 133, two shots behind Jason Dufner, who set an Oak Hill course record with a 63 on Friday.
Kuchar’s round on Friday was nearly flawless until he made bogey on the 18th hole – his first 17 holes had yielded five birdies and no bogeys. He didn’t have a bogey on his Thursday scorecard, either.
Kuchar was strong with his approach shots. He hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, tied for seventh best on Friday. He had eight one-putt greens, and his only stumble was at the 18th, where he found a bunker off the tee, was forced to lay up and failed to scramble for par.
“It was a bummer to finish with a bogey,” Kuchar said. “I knew I was bogey-free through 35 holes and really hoping to make that par putt on the last hole and be in the last group with Jason Dufner.”
Kuchar and playing partners Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler were playing in the group behind Dufner and had a front-row seat to his record round.
“The three of us on the 18th tee were kind of talking about the ramifications of what Jason Dufner could do with a birdie on the last and set the all-time scoring record,” Kuchar said.
The threesome watched Dufner hit his approach shot and were paying attention as he hit his birdie putt, which he left short.
“As we walked down to the fairway, all kind of hoping,” Kuchar said. “I know for me it would have put him an extra shot ahead, but it would have been pretty cool to see a 62. … It was kind of too bad that he missed it.”
Kuchar has finished among the top 25 in 11 of 18 starts this season. Seven times he’s been in the top 10, most recently when he tied for second at the RBC Canadian Open. He’s won twice and hasn’t missed a cut all year.
“At Bridgestone I finished just better than the middle of the pack, but really felt good about how I was hitting it,” he said. “I was excited coming into the Championship.”