Birdie from bunker lifts Kuchar to win
Hilton Head Island, S.C. • Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.
"Well," he thought as he walked toward the shot, "there are a lot worse places to be."
For Kuchar, there was no better place and no better shot in the tournament.
He followed with a stunning chip-in on Harbour Town Golf Link's closing, lighthouse hole, to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end.
Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second place and fifth top-three finish here in the past six years.
Donald's latest chance ended with Kuchar's winning birdie. Kuchar hit it solid, felt it was a good line and watched it rattle home. "I heard the crowd go crazy," he said. "Then I went crazy."
Kuchar punched the air to celebrate, grabbed his cap and swung it around to the cheers of the crowd. It was Kuchar's seventh career PGA Tour victory. He earned $1.044 million and his first trophy since the Memorial last June.
Donald was at 10-under 274 after his 69.
Ben Martin, who turned pro in 2010, shot 67 to finish tied for third at 9 under with John Huh, who shot 68.
Sunday finally brought the sunshine the tournament had lacked all week. Players got the bonus of easy, softened greens from three days of moisture.
The birdies were flying from the start, and Kuchar took full advantage. He birdied the first and second holes, then added a third from 20 feet or so at No. 4.
"When I made that putt, I knew it was going to be a really good day," he said.
That Donald was in the chase again here was no surprise. The steady Englishman, once No. 1 in the world, says Harbour Town's tight fairways and small greens are a perfect layout for him, as he isn't the longest hitter on tour.
In Duluth, Ga., Miguel Angel Jimenez held off Bernhard Langer to win the Greater Gwinnett Championship, becoming only the third player to lead from start to finish in his Champions Tour debut.
Jimenez was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters and closed with a 67 to finish two strokes ahead of Langer. Jimenez finished the tournament with 32 consecutive holes without a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf.
Langer, the defending champion, shot his third-straight 68. Jay Haas shot 67 and was third, four shots off the lead. Fred Couples (70) was fourth.