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May 21, 2014

Matt Kuchar


THE MODERATOR:  Like to welcome Matt Kuchar to the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.  Matt you never missed a cut here in seven starts.  Had a runner up finish here last year, got nine Top 10s this season on TOUR in 13 starts.  Talk about your thoughts coming into this week, and your expectations for the week, and we'll have some questions.
MATT KUCHAR:  I love coming back here.  This stretch of Texas is one I always enjoy and look forward to.  It's a couple great courses. This one in particular is a favorite of mine of the year.  I get to spend a few weeks with my instructor, Chris O'Connell and always feel like I get on some pretty good form.
This event means a lot to me.  So much history here, you tee off on the first hole and walk by that wall of champions and see the great names.  It's certainly an event I'd like to put my name on that wall.  It's a great event.  I was a little bummed last year not to finish it.  Boo Weekley played great on Sunday, great all week last year, and I'm hoping I can climb up one more spot this year.
But this has been a great year.  Had a fantastic run for these four weeks through the Masters leading up to Hilton Head, and now I feel like I'm getting back on some of that good form again and excited for the stretch of golf here starting out.

Q.  Matt, you mentioned moving up one more spot here at Colonial.  You're also doing some climbing in the World Golf Rankings.  You're fourth this week.  What would it mean to get to the top spot?  I mean, I guess it's an outside chance this week if you win here, any thoughts on that?
MATT KUCHAR:  I don't pay a whole lot of attention.  I think some of the things that take care of themselves.  I've always been good at focusing on the things I can control.  That being said, I think the number one position is an awesome title.  I think to be able to say for a while that you were the best in the world is pretty awesome.  It's a cool title.  I think all of us that play here have the aspirations to be the best of the best.  It's cool, it's attainable.
I know it wasn't long ago that number one ranking was not attainable, and Tiger had such a long down on it just everybody else was so far behind.  The second was the only place you could really try to get to.  Now there are a number of us that are within distance and it's at least attainable by year end to be the best in the world.  So it's pretty exciting.

Q.  You talked about working with Chris.  How much has that helped you in going toward the U.S. Open?  Also, how long have you been with him?
MATT KUCHAR:¬† Chris and I started in 2006, now I was back on the Web.com back then.¬† I feel like I've improved every year.¬† I feel like there hasn't ever been a‑‑ you've got to get worse to get better.¬† It's been a great progression.¬† It's great timing.¬† My work with Chris is always getting better and better.¬† So leading up to a tournament like the U.S. Open is great.¬† I actually changed my schedule leading up to the Masters.¬† Played both tournaments in Texas and San Antonio and Houston, which is not normal for me to make Masters week three in a row, but after two weeks with Chris, I've always seemed to have pretty good form.¬† Last week had a second here, had the win at Memorial next week.¬† I always feel like I get on some good form, you know, with that time with Chris.¬† So U.S. Open looming, it's certainly good timing.

Q.  You mentioned, obviously, the number one spot being attainable by several guys.  What do you think that does for the game when you have that?  There is an attainability for different guys and different guys in the mix to be number one?
MATT KUCHAR:  It's exciting.  The game of golf is great.  If Tiger has a lockdown on number one, the game of golf is great, a number of guys got a chance.  It's a little more fun for the guys that have a chance.  There is some excitement there.
The game of golf is certainly strong.  We've got amazing, new guys coming along, it's better as they continue good golf.  It's kind of fun to see this week's field having some of those guys like Olin Browne and Clearwater, and some of those older guys in the field.  I think that's cool.  I think it's good for the game.

Q.  Matt, you've got a chance to join a pretty exclusive list of players that won both at Harbour Town and here.  What similarities do both golf courses have with each other?
MATT KUCHAR:¬† Certainly tight, tree‑lined, lot of doglegs, driving the ball is crucial.¬† I think very demanding driving golf courses and ones you have to shape the ball both ways, left to right, right to left.¬† Hilton Head maybe more so than here not only being in the fairway but the proper side of the fairway.¬† There is certainly a lot of positioning involved in each course.
But I think guys really enjoy playing because there is so much strategy whether or not to be aggressive on certain holes.¬† You can take the third hole, the fifth hole, so many different ways to play the ninth hole.¬† So many different ways where you can be safe off the tee and leave yourself a longer, more difficult approach shot.¬† You can take on some challenges, and there is a good risk‑reward factor on all those holes.¬† If you take it on, you make the hole a potential birdie hole, but if it doesn't come off, it's a bogey hole.¬† So I think a lot of great risk‑reward on both course.

Q.  You came in second last year.  Can you talk about Sunday and making a run for it there?
MATT KUCHAR:  It ranks high on the list of my tournaments I'd like to win.  It was exciting.  Can't really control what the other guys do.  I wasn't my sharpest, but, still it's hard to knock a second place finish when you're playing against the best guys in the game of golf.  It was great to see Boo Weekley do so well.  He's a great asset to the PGA TOUR, great guy,certainly one of those fantastic ball strikers.  We talked about a small club that's won Hilton Head and here, and Boo Weekley is part of that group and deservedly so.

Q.  Matt, I'm guessing you probably never met Ben Hogan, but have you read his book?  What is your history with Ben Hogan?
MATT KUCHAR:  Certainly a huge admirer.  A lot of what I do with my swing, most people think of my swing as being flat, but a lot of what I do with my swing tries to emulate a lot of what he does, particularly the impact area.  I think everybody would love to do what he did with the golf swing, with the golf ball.  I feel like a lot of my work with Chris tries to get as close to that as possible.

Q.  Obviously, length off the tee is not really a disadvantage out on tour, but are there places on this course where maybe being long could be a little of a disadvantage?
MATT KUCHAR:  No, no.  That is always an advantage.  There is no reason why length is never an advantage.  You always have the ability to hit an iron.  You always have the ability to play shorter.  There are so many places it's just an asset.  Some people have it and some people don't.  That is, I think, never a bad thing.

Q.  Is it less of an advantage here than in other places?
MATT KUCHAR:¬† Hard to say.¬† Hard to say.¬† You wonder about those long guys, if they hit a 2‑iron as far as I hit a driver, is it easier to hit a 2‑iron on the fairway than it is a driver?¬† I'm not sure.¬† It's not something‑‑ I always feel like I have a better chance of hitting the fairway if I'm hitting an iron off the tee than a driver.¬† But certainly there are a lot of places where they can hit driver as an advantage.¬† I don't ever see having length as a disadvantage.

Q.  On a typical round out here, how often will you pull driver on the driving holes?
MATT KUCHAR:  I think quite a bit.  It was interesting watching Brian Palmer go around last year, being a local guy that plays here quite a bit.  When you feel like it's more your home course when you're playing just for fun, you're not playing out of irons, irons just aren't that much fun to hit off the tee.  So Ryan is used to hitting driver off most tees.
So hitting drivers off the tee, I flip‑flop every now and then between a driver, sometimes as a 3‑wood.¬† Watching a local guy pull driver there, maybe there is something to it.¬† I hit driver there a bit, but that being said, I'm not‑‑ my drive is a little different than some of the longer guys than some of the longer guys.¬† But my driving accuracy is pretty strong.¬† I think that's a strength of mine.¬† I try to use those strengths on certain holes where I can take an advantage.¬† Maybe 9, if I'm feeling good with the driver to make that into a birdie hole and¬† try to turn what a lot of times to get a par and get out of there into a legitimate shot at making birdie.

Q.  In your journey to being in this conversation of potentially being number one, is there a range session, a finish in an event that you point to that you felt like you turned the corner with the golf swing, and feeling like you were going to make strides as a regular tour winner?
MATT KUCHAR:¬† The beauty of working with Chris has been a slow progression, but always moving in the right direction.¬† I don't think there is a point where you're going to make a huge leap.¬† If you're going to work with a 20‑handicapper to get him down to a single digit, you don't go from single digit.¬† You go from 20 to 18 and make all progressions to get better and better.¬† Same with what we deal with.¬† It's small progressions, but you take a half shot around, improving a half shot around is a major difference.

Q.¬† Earlier this week, an 11‑year‑old girl qualified for the U.S. Women's Open.¬† I was wondering what kind of reaction you had to that, and maybe thinking back to when you were 11 years old, was a pro tournament let alone a major even on your radar screen?
MATT KUCHAR:  I didn't start until 12, so it's quite amazing.  I'm guessing you get the idea that girls mature a little faster than boys.  Maybe you're a little bit ahead.  It's quite an amazing feat.  You know, a lot of luck to her, I guess.

Q.  In driver and rethinking that, are there any other things you've learned over the years in playing this course that maybe changed strategically?
MATT KUCHAR:  I think it's my game has improved.  I've just become a little more aggressive.  I think I tried to play to those strengths, and those strengths tend to be my driver and my wedge game.  I think I've got a wedge in my hand and I feel like I've got a real shot at making birdie.  That's probably been the biggest difference.
Some of the things that you learn over the years or just certain places to really avoid missing it.  I feel like I've got enough control over my golf swing now that if you can't miss it here, I can still hit a good shot and make sure I don't miss it long left on 10 or something like that.  There are always a couple things year after year after you play and learning from mistakes, it kind of played enough to make enough mistakes to learn from those.

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