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September 7, 2010

Matt Kuchar


NELSON SILVERIO: We welcome FedExCup points leader Matt Kuchar to the interview room here at the BMW Championship. Thanks for joining us. You started off the Playoffs with a win at the Barclays and went through the Deutsche Bank Championship, and you had a top 10 finish here at BMW last year. Just give us your thoughts on the season so far and thoughts going into this week.
MATT KUCHAR: It's been a great year, my best year to date. Really exciting to get back in that winner's circle. It was a thrilling win at the Barclays, good timing to win the first event of the Playoffs. It's exciting to have a shot at really winning the FedExCup, so this is another step towards keeping my position and hoping to have a good showing here and at East Lake.

Q. This course has changed considerably since you won the U.S. Am here back in the day. Does it still suit your game?
MATT KUCHAR: It's meaner. It seems more punishing and more penalizing. I had a good week here last year. It was kind of my first year -- was that the first year since the changes? So still played pretty well. I remember the course when I played it in '97 in the Amateur; it was tough. It was certainly no pushover. It was a hard golf course. I think it's harder now, I think much harder.
But I still feel like my game is pretty well suited to difficult courses.

Q. Obviously they've wanted to get a U.S. Open here since that U.S. Am that you won. Could they have one here? Do you see it as a possible future site?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it seems like it. It seems like it definitely has the potential. It has the potential to be every bit as hard as they need a golf course to be, and then the infrastructure, from the space, they've got the space here with the other courses to have the hospitality. I'm not really sure what exactly the USGA looks for. I know space and courses are two big things, and other than that, I'm not sure what else they look for. But in my mind the course could certainly stand up to it.

Q. Are you sensing the public, media, fans are more into the FedExCup this year than in previous years?
MATT KUCHAR: It seems that way to me. There seems to be more excitement in my eyes, but that could just be because of my position. Last year I was hoping to make the top 30. I had an outside chance this week last year to make the top 30, and it seemed like there was some excitement to me. But now that I won the Barclays, it seems like there's a lot more excitement, a lot more well wishers, people knowing I've got a chance to win the FedExCup and the $10 million, and there seems to be just a lot more interest in my personal space than I remember. It seems like it is grabbing, grabbing some hold.

Q. Does the U.S. Am victory here still resonate? Does it help coming to this venue?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it's great. The people inside the locker room still remember me, still get big smiles on their face. It's kind of a fun homecoming for me to see those old faces. The course I've got some great memories of tee shots or putts or approach shots that stand out in my mind as some of the better shots I've hit in my career to this point. I still was just talking earlier about some of the best shots I've hit, and people were bringing up the shot in the playoff at the Barclays.
I remember a shot here on 17 in my final match, the drive off the 17th hole I put right down the middle of the fairway. I was at that time 2-up but had lost a bunch of ground, lost the momentum, and was able to put a drive right down the middle of the fairway and then stick an approach shot close that were two shots I can't remember being much more nervous over, and to be able to come through and hit good shots, they still rank as some of the best shots I've hit in my career.

Q. How is your foot doing? I believe when we talked to you at the PGA you said you broke your toe at the Greenbrier during the tournament that week in your room. Are you feeling better?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it's been a non-issue. We taped it up at the Greenbrier and it was a non-issue at the PGA. Somebody caught wind of it and it somehow became made an issue, but it was never a real issue.

Q. The holes that have had some changes have been 12, 15 and 18. I wonder if you could walk us through your approach to each of those holes. 12 is the par-3, and 15 is that par-5.
MATT KUCHAR: I'm unsure what the changes are. I thought I could remember a few different ones with bunkers more in front of greens. I thought there were a few additions of bunkers, a few raised greens. 12, I always remember the green being kind of kidney shaped, and it still is, and I don't really remember what the --

Q. There's been a change to the contouring, gave it a little more definition.
MATT KUCHAR: Okay. 15, what did they do? I remember there were bunkers along the left side. The bunkers are still there.

Q. Increased bunkering, I believe.
MATT KUCHAR: They increased it?

Q. Yeah, I think it makes it more challenging off the tee now.
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, and those are things -- I don't know that the course needed to be any harder. I'm guessing they would like to have a U.S. Open. It seems like everything they did was to make the course harder. To me I'd like to see a course play more fair, and that doesn't mean for professional golfers; for everybody, for the average golfer. I'd hate to think how the average golfer would get around this place, how the lady would get around this place, how the senior would get around this place. It seems like it pretty much just stands up to professional golf. You've got to be able to hit long irons high and soft, and there aren't many casual golfers that can carry a ball much more than 150 yards and try to stop it on a green, much less 200- and 220-yard shots. It seems like they've just made it really difficult, and I'd hate to be a caddie out here for some of the people they have to caddie for.

Q. In previous years there's been some rumblings about making the off week this week to give you guys a little more space between the Monday finish and here.
MATT KUCHAR: Pretty sensible idea to me. It seems like this is a pretty fast week, and today being as windy as it is, it almost feels like a lost day. I don't think you'll see a whole lot of guys putting in a whole lot of work today, even the guys that are new to the course. The conditions are just so much different than they'll be the rest of the week. It's so difficult to get a feel for the course that today is kind of a lost day, and then tomorrow is the pro-am day. So it's a very short week, and with these circumstances particularly hard, particularly hard on the guys that aren't regulars to Cog Hill.

Q. How are you holding up with just the amount of golf? Obviously you've known going into the Bridgestone all these tournaments you've got coming up. Hopefully you knew you were going to be playing a long stretch and now the Ryder Cup, too. Is it a bit of a mental challenge?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, it's a lot of golf, but I'm 32 years old. I like playing golf. I still get excited to be here. It is a long stretch and particularly with the added intensity of the Playoffs it's a lot, but I'm in good shape right now. I'm in good form and looking forward to a good week and not feeling the -- kind of the fatigue that some people may. I think if they do change it and make it the off week, it's a pretty sensible idea. I think it makes for a good position to have a break and then extra help because of the Monday finish and the short prep time.

Q. Following that up, do players feel the pressure building, and in that sense, does the first round feel different than a normal first round, almost like a ninth round so to speak?
MATT KUCHAR: I'd have to think there are guys that are on the bubble that feel a lot more pressure going on, and I think the later we go into the Playoffs, the more you can kind of see that pressure building. You can see the -- it's a bigger cut. Now we go from 70 to 30 guys, so it's a bigger cut. You've got less and less time to make up ground. Now there's just one tournament left before the TOUR Championship. This is the last event to set your position before the reset of the TOUR Championship.

Q. Are guys reluctant to practice in the wind because they're not going to get the proper feedback on full swings, or how would you articulate that?
MATT KUCHAR: You don't get as -- the feedback that you normally would. One way is you hit a lot more specialty shots as opposed to normal shots, and there are just shots that aren't required on normal days that you find yourself hitting a lot more of. And the course -- for instance, I played five holes today. On the 3rd hole I almost drove it to the cross-bunkers, which are 340, 350 yards out, and only had a sand wedge in. I'm used to hitting 7- and 8-irons into No. 3 and hit a sand wedge in.
NELSON SILVERIO: Matt, thank you very much.

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