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September 20, 2012

Matt Kuchar


THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome Matt Kuchar to the interview room.  A nice 3‑under par.  Good way to start off the week here at East Lake, especially for an event of this magnitude.  Can you just talk about your round today?
MATT KUCHAR:  Yeah, thank you.  It was my goal for years to qualify for the TOUR Championship, and to have made it the last two years now, three years in a row, is still high on my goals, still awfully proud to be here, excited to be here.  Still nice to get off to a good start.  My first two TOUR Championships didn't go quite as nice as I would have liked.  Awfully nice to get off to a good start.  Didn't hit it that well, didn't drive it that well particularly, but putted fantastic.  Really had the putter going.
I think now I feel more comfortable with the course.  Even though I played it a lot in college, I kind of knew a lot of places where it miss it.  Like 17 I missed my drive to the right.  Knew if I could just run the ball up into that front greenside bunker was an easy up‑and‑down.  I think I've learned over the years that maybe the difference between college and now is the new greens and how firm they are.
There are just a lot of places where you used to be able to get up and down, and now you can't.  I played smart when I was in trouble, and I was able to sneak away with a 3‑under par round.

Q.  Are there any other examples like that of things you've learned on how to play them?  Like you said on 17?
MATT KUCHAR:  Yeah, yeah.  I did a lot of chipping from the Bermuda rough in my practice rounds today, knowing that that's the difference.  We haven't played Bermuda rough in a couple of months, and it's definitely a big difference, even though I grew up playing Bermuda rough and feel more comfortable than most.  I don't know if anybody really gets comfy playing from it.
So I practiced a lot and ended up feeling like the bunkers a lot of times are the better place to be than just off the green in the rough.  I ended up in five bunkers today, and was five for five getting up‑and‑down.

Q.  Had you expected more of yourself the last come TOUR Championships?  Were you just putting too much pressure on yourself here?
MATT KUCHAR:  The game of golf is so fickle that I think I do a good job of not putting too much in the way of expectations on myself.  I come looking to play well, but certainly not expecting it.  So I don't know if the pressure was there or just the game of golf.  My game at the end of the year might not have been quite as strong as I would have liked it.  I think it's a learning curve for us all juggling the schedule and making sure we're ready to go come playoffs and then all the way through to the end, through the TOUR Championship.
I think there could have been some fatigue in there as well last year.  I tried to budget and tried to rest as much as I could leading up to, gosh, I guess it was the British Open where there was a big round of golf.  Then in the playoffs, I've tried to get a little more rest than maybe in past years.

Q.  You still look on this as a home game for you?
MATT KUCHAR:  Yeah, absolutely.  I feel like Atlanta is a hometown.  I feel like there is great support.  Georgia Tech being just down the road, it's fun to see so many friends and so many supporters come out.

Q.  For the people watching on TV, the non‑professionals out there, just spell out how difficult a challenge it is out there on this particular track here at East Lake?
MATT KUCHAR:  It's long, it's tight, the greens are firm and fast.  It's got all the dimensions of being a tough golf course.  Then there are a couple holes on the backside where it feels almost Olympic Club like where you have to shape your ball into the fairways just to keep it on the fairways.  Number 16 definitely comes to mind being very sloped.  14, again, a pitched fairway that kind of needs a little bit of a draw in.  So there are a couple of holes that even if you hit a straight ball, it looks like it's going down the middle, it may not end up in the rough.  You really have to be careful on a couple of those drives that a straight ball down the middle may not be quite good enough to stay on the fairway.

Q.  I've seen over the years here it requires a gutsy kind of performance and gutsy kind of character to go in and seal the win.  Would you agree with that?
MATT KUCHAR:  Yeah, a guy's got to be playing good golf.  It takes, I think, a guy that hits a higher ball flight is rewarded around here.  So it take some guts, just takes a lot of good playing, really.

Q.  If I remember right, I think last year we talked about you trying to eliminate some of the distractions of being at home.  Was that correct?  Did you do that again this year?
MATT KUCHAR:  No, I have not done that this year (laughing).  It's been about catching up with as many people as I can and having more fun with it.  I think, again, with Ryder Cup coming up next week as well.  Got a lot of people looking forward to coming here this week as well as going next week to the Ryder Cup.
So there is an exchange of tickets, a lot has happened, a couple barbecues, and I kind of realized I can't really eliminate all the distractions.  We try to have nice, easy family time, but also enjoying getting back together with all the friends and rekindling those friendships.

Q.  On that note, can I ask you how does this prepare you for the Ryder Cup?  Does it not prepare you for the Ryder Cup with them just being a week apart?  What is your thought process going from here to there?
MATT KUCHAR:  I think it's great.  I think you look at most guys preparing for majors, and it seems like more often than not, a guy will play the week before.  I think being competitively sharp is helpful.  I think coming from a place where you're grinding over three and four footers, trying to make them helps going into a tournament like the Ryder Cup.

Q.  You being a Tech guy, you've done all the calculations for what you need to do to win $10 million?
MATT KUCHAR:  No, no I never find that helpful in trying to play good golf.  I never find trying to figure out a number, a score to at all help me hit a better shot.  That is not going to help me execute any better.  I just try to leave that wherever it falls, it falls.
The last two years was fun being inside the Top 5.  Pretty simple knowing if you win, you win the FedExCup.  This year I come in 16th and need more things to go my way.  But I'll just try to play as well as I can and not really think about how everybody else is doing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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