Rather than wallow in self-pity following the incredible series of events on the back nine and runner-up finish at the 2017 British Open, Matt Kuchar is right back at it this week at the RBC Canadian Open.
The 39-year-old veteran knows he missed a big time opportunity to capture his first career major, but he’s not beating himself up given the way Jordan Spieth was simply playing on a different level throughout those last six holes at Royal Birkdale.
“When something like that happens, nothing you can do but tip your hat and say, ‘well done.’” Kuchar said this week prior to the Canadian Open. “He certainly teased me through 13 holes with a chance at it. It helps when I look back at the situation, the scenario, and go – certainly I didn’t give it away. I didn’t lose it. Jordan played incredible. He won it.
“It helped, kind of the outpouring of messages I got from folks. I kind of let them slide for the first day or two, and then started doing my best to reply to all of them. They were all awfully nice. All certainly very, very positive. I think that was helpful to go through that process.”
Asked about his mindset throughout the final stretch, Kuchar delivered a hole-by-hole description which thoroughly explained what it’s like to see a major championship slip away in real time.
No. 13, par 4
“Jordan was playing poor golf through 13 holes. He was not playing well. I thought I was just going to keep plotting along, and once he hit his drive on 13, I was figuring I was going to end up with a two-shot lead with five to go. He made an amazing up-and-down to save bogey, and so I still ended up with a one-shot lead, and he was not on good form at that point. I thought I was definitely the one playing better golf at that point and was going to keep plotting along.”
No. 14, par 3
“He nearly made a hole-in-one. He hit just a perfect shot on 14. So now we’re even. Great, even with four to go. Good place to be. I feel like I’m playing the better golf.”
No. 15, par 5
“After we hit our second shots he (had the) clear advantage on 15, but I knew (with) my bunker shot, I was going to have a good shot at birdie. I hit a great bunker shot to three feet and knew that I was going to make that for birdie, and probably be tied with three to go. He makes the putt for eagle and I go, ‘Alright, 1-down with three to go. Certainly still in this. Feeling good.’”
No. 16, par 4
“I hit two good shots. Came up just short. He hits a drive in the rough and a shot on the green. Great shot to 25 feet or so and makes the (birdie) putt. Kind of, shoot, but I’m 2-down, two to go. I’m still in this.”
No. 17, par 5
“He hits a bad drive on 17. I hit a poor drive on 17, as well. And we’re kind of neck-and-neck there. I hit a good wedge. He hits a great wedge. I make my putt thinking, I’m still in this. And he makes his putt on top of me, and (I) go, ‘Yeah, I’m not out totally.’”
No. 18, par 4
“(At) 18, you know, he could make bogey. I could make birdie. Still had hopes. When he put it on the green, I find myself with a flyer lie that I knew I didn’t have much control over. I thought, chances are slim. With 40 feet, possible to 3-putt and when I found my ball plugged in the bunker, there weren’t many chances from there.
“But still, held out hope and thought it was doable. I continued playing some good, steady golf. And Jordan, what a show he put on. That was impressive stuff.”