Tuesday Tee-Off – May 15

The Kuch is Loose

After 24 other top-10 finishes over the last two years, but only one other victory, the case was certainly be made that Matt Kuchar was due. And, after a two-stroke victory on Sunday, over names like Rickie Fowler and Martin Laird and major winners Zach Johnson and Ben Curtis, there is no reason for him to wipe that boyish grin off his face any time soon. It’s a grin we saw a lot of through a solid final round 2-under 70, giving Kuchar his biggest victory on Tour at the Player’s Championship. Kuchar has been basically a top-10 machine over the last few seasons, thanks in large part to his flattened swing, much improved (albeit, somewhat unconventional) putting stroke, and can-do attitude. He’s rarely been able to close the big one but now that he has, it’s time to see what he can do as a follow-up act.

Nationwide is on your side

With the strong Canadian contingent popping up weekly on the Nationwide Tour – guys like Adam Hadwin, Brad Fitsch, and Matt McQuillan come to mind – my eyes have been on the minor league’s leaderboards a lot more often than in recent years. What’s been interesting is to see the kinds of golfers and calibre of names that pop up week-to-week at any Nationwide Tour event. Take last week’s Stadion Classic, where former PGA TOUR winners like Jason Gore, Woody Austin and Joe Durant all cracked the top-30, and two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen finished t-3. Even this week’s past Player’s Champion Matt Kuchar spent a season on the Nationwide Tour fine-tuning his game and getting his head on straight. Golf is a cruel game, no doubt about it. And with the changes coming to Q-School starting next season, who knows what other names we may see on Nationwide Tour leaderboards.

Ain’t Ready To Quit

Last weekend, alongside the incomparable Dan Jenkins, two-time major champion Sandy Lyle, British broadcaster Peter Alliss and four-time LPGA major champion Hollis Stacy, Phil Mickelson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Although obviously deserving, Phil admitted afterwards that he still has a lot of golf left in him. At 42, he is arguably one of the favourites going into next month’s U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco and no one knows how many Phil-the-Thrill moments he has left in him. This is akin to inducting Albert Pujols into the baseball Hall of Fame at the All-Star break. A great suggestion I came across was to at least raise the age limit to 50 and tie it into a Senior Tour event of some kind. I can’t think of a better ambassador for the Tour, nor a more deserving Hall of Famer, but when the guy himself admits he has more wins in him, and we all believe him, the timing may not be right.

Texas Was You

This week the Tour heads to Texas for a mini two-stop swing through the lone star state. First up is the HP Byron Nelson Classic, played in what would be Lord Byron’s 100th year. The TPC Four Seasons resort will play host to the championship for the 27th time. Defending champion Keegan Bradley is back in the field, and after an incredible latter-half of 2011 (including winning the PGA Championship) along with a great start to 2012, Bradley has cooled down slightly, missing cuts at two of his last three events. I would not at all be surprised if Matt Kuchar won again this week, riding high off his win at The Players and the sixth-place finish he had at last year’s edition of this tournament.


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