Sept. 27, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Heading into this weekend’s 39th Annual Ryder Cup, Matt Kuchar has a stroke advantage on the rest of Team USA.
“It’s clear that ‘Kuch’ is the best,” Team USA Captain Davis Love III told PGA.com’s Kelly Elbin. “I’m not going to give you any scores, but now they’re comparing how many points they got off of ‘Kuch.’ They can’t beat him, it’s just a matter of how close you came. I don’t think ‘Kuch’ is really showing them everything he’s got, either. He’s being a little bit nice.”
Okay, so Love was referring to Kuchar’s dominance over the squad in table tennis. But Kuchar’s skill on the table against his USA teammates — we can only guess how he’d mow down his European counterparts — never would have come to light if he didn’t have the skill on the links to make the team.
Kuchar proved he belongs on the 12-player squad which tees off this morning against 12 of Europe’s best at Medinah Country Club, in Medinah, Ill., just outside of Chicago.
The 2000 Tech graduate and a Management major, is a four-time PGA Tour champion who currently ranks 15th in Official World Golf rankings and 18th in the world in FedEx Cup points. He qualified to make the Ryder Cup team by finishing seventh in qualifying points behind Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, and Zach Johnson, and ahead of Phil Mickelson, and Steve Stricker. Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker were added to the team as coach’s selections.
This second go-round in Ryder Cup play, caps off a very consistent, Kuchar-like 2012 season, in which he won the Players Championship and had eight top-10 finishes.
He expects to improve on his first appearance in 2010, at Celtic Manor, in Newport, Wales, when he broke even, with a 1-1-2 record. Europe won the Cup, edging the U.S., 14 1/2-13 1/2.
As a rookie, Kuchar paired with fellow Yellow Jacket alum Stewart Cink and on Day One, halved in Four-Ball against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. On Day Two, he and Cink defeated McIlroy and McDowell in Foursome. Kuchar and Cink halved again on Day 3 in Four-Ball, against brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari. Then, in Singles play on Day 4, Kuchar lost 5 and 4 loss to Ian Poulter.
Kuchar doesn’t know his partner yet for the ’12 competition, but does know that it’s fulfilling to make the squad again and he expects the weekend to be exciting.
“It’s been one of my major goals to make this team for a number of reasons,” he said in an interview with Elbin. “Once you play your first team competition, you don’t want to miss out on another one.”
This will be Kuchar’s fourth international competition, as he also played in the 1998 and ’99 Palmer Cup (played between U.S. and European college players) and the ’99 Walker Cup (U.S. amateurs vs. amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland) and he’s glad to be home for it.
He and the U.S. team are counting on feeding off the emotion of the home crowd, an excitement he said he could feel as early as Tuesday, during his practice round.
“It was so exciting knowing that we were on home turf,” Kuchar said. “There was such an eruption of excitement when we got to the first tee. It was an awesome feeling.
“I’ve got to believe the fans are going to be jacked up for any sort of play for the U.S.,” he added. “It really just takes one good shot to get them going. I expect the fans to be really supportive, really passionate, and I’m looking forward to seeing that sort of passion for the game of golf.”
That passion for the game of golf will certainly be felt around the Georgia Tech campus, as the 2012 Ryder Cup will mark the eighth time that the Jackets have given Tech golf fans a rooting interest. Kuchar is the fourth different Yellow Jacket to play for the U.S., joining Larry Mize (1987), David Duval (1998, 2002) and Cink (2002, ’04, 06, ’08, and ’10).
The complete interview with Kuchar can be found on www.rydercup.com/usa/interviews/thurdsday/interview-matt-kuchar.