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February 19, 2014

Matt Kuchar


KELLY BARNES:  Please welcome defending champion Matt Kuchar to the interview room.  You had your first round win, you're seeking to be the first player to defend your title since Tiger Woods a few years back.  Does that put added pressure on or does that give you a little more confidence coming back here it to defend?
MATT KUCHAR:  I watched Hunter Mahan last year to put on quite a show.  To make it all the way to the finals is quite a feat.  That's quite a winning streak.  Any tournament is tough to defend.  I think match play is particularly tough.  I think some places you can get a course that you really like and maybe have an advantage in stroke play, but when it comes to match play all it takes is one guy getting hot and you go home early.
I certainly know I've got my work cut out for me.  It's nice to get a win in the first round and kind of get the juices going and the flow of match play going again.  It felt good to be out here.  I enjoy this course, I feel like I know the course pretty well.  And certainly glad to get through the first round.

Q.  You talked a little bit about how fickle match play can be if one guy gets hot.  With that being said, your record is 16 and 3 at this event, what do you attribute that to?
MATT KUCHAR:  It's hard to say.  There's definitely some luck of the draw.  There's certainly some ‑‑ play dictates your record.  I've played well.  I've played consistent.  I feel like my strengths are not giving holes away.  This is a unique golf course and it's real easy to get on the wrong side of things here, real easy to miss a green and just put it in a place where you can't get it up and down.  So I feel like I know the course pretty well.  And I strategically feel like I can work my way around and not give away too many holes.
The other side of it, there are a number of holes you've got to be aggressive.  You have to make birdie on the par‑5s and a handful of the wedge holes.
My strategy, there's no uniqueness to my strategy, it's pretty much a stroke play strategy.  I try to hit the best shot for the situation.  It's rare that I change up.  If a player does something amazing, I would maybe get more aggressive or conservative depending on their result.  But for the most part, I try to play it like it's a stroke play event.

Q.  What happened on the hole where you called the penalty on yourself?
MATT KUCHAR:  Right.  That was 14.  Bernd and I each hit shots in on a very similar line.  He had about 20 feet.  I had 16 feet.  I had the same line.  He asked me to move my mark, which I did.  And I kind of just fell in love with watching his ball roll out and getting the line.  And then I think the situation took over that here I was with a 16‑footer to win the match and felt really good about the line, and I completely forget to move the mark back.  And so made the putt and thought that was the end of the match.  So made the putt, thought that was the end of the match, shook hands.  And there were a couple of questions, I think Bernd asked my caddie, Lance, had I remembered to move the mark back.  And it came to me and I said, Son of a gun, I did not move the mark back.
I was kind of hoping, and I don't know the rule well enough.  This has never happened to me before, but I was hoping it was a one‑shot penalty and I get to try it again.  In stroke play, I'm not sure if it's a one‑shot penalty.  I think you put it back.
Zach Johnson had that happen at Colonial a couple of years ago to win the tournament.  And I think it's a shot penalty, move it back, and you get to try again.  I figured, gosh, still make the putt and at least half the hole, and they said it's loss of hole.
The nice thing is I had a 4‑up lead at that time, 3‑up with 4 to go, still a comfortable lead.  And it was somewhat fitting that 16, Bernd had asked me to move my coin again.  This time I remembered to move it back and was able to make the putt and close out the match.  So it was kind of funny.  The only two times we had to move a coin today was those two holes.

Q.  I take it the swing changes went better this week than they did last week?
MATT KUCHAR:  Just needs a little more time.  There was still a few shots I wasn't overly pleased with, but a lot of really solid shots.  Yeah, I'm happy.  I'm pleased with the direction.  It's one of those things that I know it's going in the direction and I know it's just going to get better and better.

Q.  Not thinking about it so much?
MATT KUCHAR:  No, no, it's still something I'm thinking about, for sure.  I generally have a thought in mind, a mechanical thought.  I said earlier, it's a little harder for me having a backswing mechanical thought than my typical downswing.  I know that it's going in the right direction so I'm sticking with it and having some good results.  I feel like I'm hitting the ball the way I'd like to, just some are still a little bit loose.
KELLY BARNES:  Thanks for coming in.

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