Kuchar enters new era with Players win

Matt Kuchar became the latest player to stake his claim in what can surely mow be described as the post-Tiger Woods era, completing a two-shot victory at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Four players, including Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis and Martin Laird, finished in a tie for second.

Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Kuchar, starting the final round one behind leader Kevin Na and bogeyed the opening hole but birdies at four, nine, twelve and sixteen enabled the 33-year-old to take control of the event to eventually finish at 13-under-par.

The Players Championship is Kuchar’s fourth PGA Tour title and his first since the 2010 Barclays.

“I feel like my mental game is one of my strongest suits,” said Kuchar, who with the victory climbed to number five in the official world golf rankings and collected US$1.71 million for the win.

“This is just too cool to have your name along with these players on the trophy. It is amazing.”

“There were a lot of long putts out there today, but my putting and chipping was good and I was able to just kind of survive out there and was mentally tough enough to just keep being there.”

Kuchar is a player who prides himself on his consistency despite the variances that he has experienced on tour since turning professional back in 2000.

He has had his fair share of setbacks – including the loss of his PGA Tour card in 2005 – yet Kuchar is a survivor and is better from the experiences.

“Consistency is what you strive to achieve as a golfer,” said Kuchar, who this season has one win, a third place and five top-10 finishes and has made the cut in all ten events entered to be ranked 6th on the Fed-Ex series.

“I felt like I was able to get the job done today because I was consistent enough to survive the finish. It’s been a good year. I’m particularly pleased with the number of times that I was able to put myself into position and how the year has started.”

Kuchar has smiled his way around golf courses ever since his college years at Georgia Tech, during and after his US Amateur victory in 1997, and in his first Masters appearance in 1998.

He again was smiling following the win at The Players and like most of the players on the PGA Tour, Kuchar lives for the competition and for the thrill of the hunt in the thick of the competition on the final day.

“I think one of the things that strikes me is walking every day through the champion’s tunnel seeing the previous winners of this event,” said Kuchar.

“Every player does it. And for me, I can’t help but stop and gaze at all the photos going through champions tunnel, and to think I’m going to be a part of that with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd and Phil Mickelson and David Duval and Tiger Woods, it’s all the best of the best.”

“To feel like I’m going to see my picture up there next year is pretty cool.”

Another player has made their mark on the world golfing stage and it brings with it a sense of a new era.

Rickie Fowler winning last week at the Wells Fargo, Rory McIlroy last week re-claiming the world number one ranking and now Matt Kuchar – The Players Champion for 2012 – no sign of Tiger or Phil Mickelson to be seen.