Notes: Kuchar has strong memories of 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club

Matt Kuchar
Getty Images
Matt Kuchar hasn't played the Lake Course at the Olympic Club since the final round of the 1998 U.S. Open, when he finished in a tie for 14th place as an amateur.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | 12:32 a.m.

Matt Kuchar returns to The Olympic Club in June for the U.S. Open, where in 1998 he tied for 14th. Kuchar turned 20 during the final round, so it would seem a return to Olympic would bring back warm memories.

Then again, this is the U.S. Open.

"I can remember walking off the course at Olympic Club and just being dead tired after my rounds at the U.S. Open," Kuchar said. "And I remember my rounds at the Masters feeling like I was walking on clouds, feeling like I had so much fun I didn't want the round to end. At Olympic Club, I was more, `Boy, I'm glad this round is over with. I don't know if I can take any more punishment.'"

Kuchar has not been on the Lake Course since 1998, even though he has been to San Francisco numerous times. The one time he tried to go to Olympic, the course was being renovated for the U.S. Open. He has no plans to see the course before the next major. 

CHINA EVENT: The PGA Tour's tournament in Malaysia was trumped last year by a special event called the Shanghai Masters, which offered a $5 million purse with $2 million to the winner. It attracted a strong field, including Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk from the PGA Tour, and Rory McIlroy wound up beating Anthony Kim in a playoff.

Now, it's an official tournament on the European Tour.

It will be called the BMW Masters, played Oct. 25-28 at Lake Malaren in Shanghai and offering a $7 million purse for the 78-man field. It again will be held opposite the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, which last year featured a $6.1 million purse but does not count as an official win on the PGA Tour.

The WGC-HSBC Champions will be the following week, moving this year from Shanghai to Mission Hills in Shenzhen.

"I'm already looking forward to tee off," McIlroy said. "Thanks to the involvement of BMW, the tournament will now be one of the very best events in the world. That obviously makes it all the more exciting to defend my title there."

It will be the fourth tournament sponsored by BMW -- three on the European Tour, one in America.

AMAZING GRACE: Branden Grace started the year at No. 271 in the world, fresh off getting his European Tour card through Q-School. Four months later, he already is a three-time winner.

"If I think back now to last year and playing on the Challenge Tour and just trying to get back to the main tour and really just trying to make a living, it was tough at points," Grace said. "So to be here with three wins is amazing. I wouldn't have thought I would have been top 70 in the world."

The 23-year-old from South Africa is only the second player in European Tour history to win three times in the season after Q-School. The other was Johan Edfors in 2006. Grace joined even more exclusive company. Only two other players have won three times in one season at a younger age -- Seve Ballesteros (three times) and Sandy Lyle.

DIVOTS: Jack Nicklaus is getting own drink. Arizona Beverages has created a partnership with Nicklaus to produce a new line of lemonade drinks called "Golden Bear." The line will feature three flavors -- regular lemonade with honey and ginseng, mango lemonade and strawberry lemonade. ... David Duval made his first cut of the year on the PGA Tour at the Valero Texas Open. He had missed the cut in his opening seven tournaments. ... Frank Lickliter tied for 13th at the Texas Open, his highest finish on the PGA Tour since he tied for 13th in the 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship, a span of 56 tournaments and nearly four years. ... Despite good weather, the Texas Open featured a two-tee start in the final round because the TPC San Antonio was playing difficult and officials were not sure how long it would take to finish. Ben Curtis holed the winning putt at 6:02 p.m. EDT. ... The Humana Challenge produced more than $2 million in charitable proceeds, while the Humana Foundation contributed an additional $500,000 from its "Walkit Challenge" program.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Sean O'Hair leads the PGA Tour career money list among players under 30. He has made $16.2 million. O'Hair turns 30 in July.

FINAL WORD: "Some people take a big leap forward, but slowly going forward is not a bad idea." -- Bubba Watson.