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Matt Kuchar gave the ball from his Masters ace to a 10-year-old boy with a great Sam Snead hat

By Garry Smits
Published on
Matt Kuchar gave the ball from his Masters ace to a 10-year-old boy with a great Sam Snead hat

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Owen Lockaby's favorite golfer used to be Tiger Woods.

It's now Matt Kuchar, after he got the autographed souvenir of a lifetime during the final round of the Masters Tournament on Sunday.

Kuchar, a St. Simons Island, Ga., resident who staged the biggest move up the leaderboard in the final round, made the 18th hole-in-one at the par-3 16th hole of the Augusta National Golf to cap a second nine in which he played five holes in a row at 5-under, starting with a 30-foot birdie putt at the other par 3 on the inward nine, No. 12.

 

Kuchar matched the day's low round of 67 and finished in a tie for fourth at 5-under-par 283, four shots out of the Sergio Garcia-Justin Rose playoff. It was Kuchar's fourth top-10 finish at Augusta, all in the past six years.

Kuchar had 180 yards to the hole at No. 16 and said it was a perfect 7-iron for him. The ball landed slightly to the right of the hole and curled in.

"There was no debate about the club," Kuchar's caddie John Wood said. "It was a perfect number for him."

After retrieving the ball from the hole, Kuchar spotted Lockaby, a 10-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., sitting along the front row of patrons behind the green. It wasn't hard: Lockaby was wearing a bright coral-colored shirt with a straw hat reminiscent of past Masters champion Sam Snead, and adorned with the large "Arnie's Army" button given to patrons during the first round.

Kuchar signed the Bridgestone No. 1 ball and flipped it to Lockaby, whose smile then became as broad as Kuchar's.

"I got him the hat because I thought it might get him noticed for some autographs," said Owen's mother Tracy. "We never thought it would get him that kind of attention."

Owen was pretty much speechless, even 30 minutes after Kuchar went through.

"I just sat there," he said. "Then Matt gave me the ball."

Tracy Lockaby said Owen's father Jay has been coming to the Masters for 30 years, and Owen has never missed one.

"He's been to 10 -- in you count one where I was pregnant," she said.

Kuchar said giving the ball away was something that went through his mind as soon as he got to the green.

"You see kids of a certain age and you know that a memento will be special to them," Kuchar said. "The cool part of our job is making a kid's day. I've got enough hole-in-one balls."

Kuchar said the hat got his attention right away.

"He had the Sam Snead hat on and I said, 'that's the kid I'm giving it to,'" Kuchar said.

Kuchar got within three shots of the lead after the ace. In between the two par-3 holes he birdied No. 13 on a 16-foot putt, nearly holed out at the par-4 14th and tapped in from 3 feet and saved par at No. 15 despite hitting his second shot into the water.

Kuchar had only one bogey all week on the second nine, at No. 11 on Friday. He played those holes at 11-under.

With a chance to cut into his deficit with two holes left, Kuchar missed the 17th and 18th greens, but got up-and-down both times.

"That's really good ... that's really good," when Kuchar was asked about his performance on the second nine. "To make one bogey just those first two days [when the conditions were cold and windy] was great."

But he was mindful of the fact that he played the first nine at 5-over.

"First hole on Thursday means as much as the 16th hole on Sunday," he said. "It's every bit as important. I felt like I played very, very solid golf for four rounds." 

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