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March 5, 2013

Matt Kuchar


LAURA NEAL:  We'd like to welcome Matt Kuchar to the interview room.
Matt, a little better weather than when I saw you last time.  You've improved your finish here almost every year and you're coming off a win at Accenture Match Play Championship, maybe just talk about your expectations coming into this week as another World Golf Championship event.
MATT KUCHAR:  I'm excited to be back.  It's a fantastic and fun event, but to come down and get some good weather, I know at Accenture we had some rotten luck with some really cold and even snowy conditions.  To be here and not need a sweater is a nice feeling.
So really looking forward to getting on to the course and re‑acclimating myself with it.  I've had some nice finishes the last few years, enjoy the course.  It's kind of back to my roots of playing Florida golf.  Grew up in Orlando and always feel like I feel comfortable down here, and certainly excited after the Match Play victory to come in on a high and keep playing well.

Q.  What about this course fits you?  And as you've improved your position, is it that you've gotten more acclimated to the course, or is it one of those things where you're just playing better each year?
MATT KUCHAR:  I would say, playing better each year.  I'd say there's also a comfort level with the grasses, with the Florida courses.  But I think course knowledge only helps when you hit it where you want to hit it.
So I think you've got to play well.  You could have a complete home course knowledge and just not be playing well and that home course knowledge goes out the window.  So you've got to be performing in order to take advantage of those comfortable feelings and of the course knowledge.
So there is certainly a comfort level on bermudagrass but continuing to play some good golf and maybe this place kind of brings it out for me.

Q.  I want to ask you about early on in your career, back to your amateur days and all the pressure and expectations that were on you, if you could maybe talk a little about that, and what that was like for you dealing with it, maybe what you learned from it, going through that experience.
MATT KUCHAR:  The pressures and expectations, I was never‑‑ I never felt like they affected me.  I never even take notice.  I know there was more attention, but I always wanted to be that guy who had the opportunities to be interviewed, to be that guy that had people asking questions about the course and being up doing press conferences.
As a kid, it was a rare thing that you would get a newspaper journalist and reporter asking for time; we were always jealous of the guys being asked questions by the newspaper guys.  You kind of wanted your face and your name in the newspaper.
It was fun to get to that point where I was the guy being asked the questions.  I enjoyed that.  I still enjoy being up here with this sort of attention.  But I didn't feel expectations or pressures.  My game certainly wasn't to the point where it is right now.
It wasn't like I just had a consistent game and there was too much pressure and I couldn't hold up.  I don't think my game was solid enough to just play well week‑in and week‑out.  I would have streaks of some really good play and then kind of slump again.  I did go through some slumps for an extended period of time; I would have good rounds, but I couldn't put together four straight good rounds.
Went back to the Nationwide Tour, started working with Chris O'Connell in 2006 and from there, I feel my game really started improving and it seems I've gotten better every year.

Q.  Segues to my next question.  How difficult was it for you when your swing maybe wasn't where you wanted it to be or you were going through some of those changes, frustration level, kind of managing sort of the expectations of what you were trying to do and where you were trying to get to?
MATT KUCHAR:  Golf is a difficult and humbling game.  I think it's gotten the best of everybody at times.  So it was at times very frustrating.  I think it's one of those things, even when you're playing great, the game of golf can still bring you right back down and humble you pretty quickly.
So when you're struggling, it can feel like it's a hole you can't get out of.  You can feel like you're so far away from ever playing good golf again, but then it could be the very next day where you go, Holy Cow, I found it and I'm ready to go.  I'm ready to play great golf and contend for tournament wins.
Yeah, there were times I felt like I was going to have a hard time fighting my way back and fortunately with my work with Chris O'Connell, it's really been this upward climb where I feel like there's still a lot of improvements we can make.  I feel like we've made a great deal of improvements and I feel like there's still a lot of room to get better.

Q.  You won THE PLAYERS and a World Golf Championship; how much more are you thinking about majors after that progression?
MATT KUCHAR:  I've always thought you were supposed to take the appropriate steps to get to the next level.  I've always thought that like in school, you kind of graduate elementary school, get to middle school, you graduate middle school and get to high school and then college, and those are the steps you take.  You don't jump straight into college and you don't jump straight into advance placement courses.  You kind of take these little steps to get there.
I thought the same was applicable with golf.  I felt like you kind of start playing well, you start Top‑10'ing, you start having a lot of chances, and then you win a tournament.  Then you start doing the same in bigger tournaments.  You start having better and better results and you take those steps and feel more and more comfortable in the big tournaments, majors included, and I fell like I've made the right progressions.
I know majors carry a lot of weight.  I go into every tournament; I'm playing here at Doral and I'll go next week to Tampa.  I'm going to want to win Tampa every bit as much as I've wanted to win every tournament I've played in.  I'm not going there saying, let's play well and hope I get my game in shape for, Augusta.
I'm going to Tampa hoping that I'm going to give it everything I've got trying to win it every bit as much as I gave it to win THE PLAYERS or every bit as much as I gave it to win the World Golf Championships Match Play.  I feel like that mentality hopefully carries over into Augusta and that just makes Augusta another one of those tournaments that I really want to win, but I really want to win the 26 tournaments I play for the year.

Q.  Last week some of the guys were saying about the Match Play, that you can play really good and lose or you can play poorly and win.  Most of the guys had lost‑‑ curious how did you play?
MATT KUCHAR:  There's always the luck of the draw.  I felt like I played really steady golf for six matches.  I know when I won the U.S. Amateur, I remember being a couple over par and winning a match.
I know it's happened in the past and some of my match play victories at the Accenture Match Play, that had some bad rounds of golf that I ended up winning.  I felt like for these last six days when I won two weeks ago, that I had a really steady six matches. 
But, there's also some luck, I recall hearing that Hunter Mahan went out and played a match with a guy, 15 or 16 holes, made seven birdies, no bogeys.  I didn't draw that guy that week.  I mean, you can very easily play a really steady, great round of golf and get beaten.  Now, I didn't draw the guy that was just amazingly hot.  So there is definitely some luck of the draw.  That's the way it goes.

Q.  I wasn't questioning your game at all.  I just wanted to know how good you felt about how you played?
MATT KUCHAR:  Yeah, I had six really steady solid matches.  It was a nice performance for the week.

Q.  Rory is a guy who seems to have never have made a miss‑step in his career until last week.  What was your reaction when you heard that he walked off the course?
MATT KUCHAR:  Found out very late.  And through taking to some people‑‑ I have not experienced it but some people say‑‑ I don't know anything really about wisdom tooth or teeth, but toothaches can be just a pain you can't deal with, causing headaches and things you just can't function with.
So I can't say, it could be one of those things where you just can't function and need to go.  I'm assuming it's kind of the position Rory was in.

Q.  What about your fitness level or workout regimen would surprise someone who doesn't think a golfer is as athletic?
LAURA NEAL:  Saw you jumping rope in full gear this morning before you were practicing.
MATT KUCHAR:  I'm not a huge fitness junkie.  I think of myself as being athletic, though.  I think of myself as‑‑ I can pick up pretty much any sport and have a good go with just about anybody.  As far as golf being athletic, I would say, go try it, let's see how well you do.  It's a hard game.
The fun thing about what we do for a living is we get to play with a lot of interesting and neat people and have played in Pro‑Ams with a lot of different pro athletes.  I can remember playing one year in Memphis with one of the Grizzlies point guards.  And he was an okay golfer, but he hated having to walk 18 holes.
He said, if ever he was going to his local course and it was cart path only, he refused to play; he couldn't handle all the walking from the cart and back.  This is a guy that runs up and down the court all day long and is more fit than any of us and was struggling with the endurance of walking 18 holes.
It seems silly but there is certainly that endurance.  There is‑‑ yeah, it's a lot of hand‑eye coordination.  I see guys that are fantastic athletes that can't get the ball airborne.  It's one of the hardest games and I think that's what makes it so addictive is how challenging and how difficult it is.

Q.  How much do you work out every day, let's say, before or after a round of 18?
MATT KUCHAR:  It's a little bit.  I prefer doing, I don't know if you would call it cross‑training; tennis certainly is a thing that I really enjoy doing.  My wife is a fantastic tennis player and we try to get out a couple times a week and play tennis.  I can chase a ball all day long, but on a treadmill, I don't have as much fun as I do chasing a ball.  So going out, playing tennis, swimming, doing some other things that I much enjoy and much prefer to a proper gym.
LAURA NEAL:  Thanks for your time.  Good luck this week.

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