Kuchar grabs 2nd victory of season
He starts Hawaii vacation with fourshot win over Putnam that wasn’t easy
HONOLULU — Matt Kuchar overcame three early bogeys that cost him the lead with flawless golf and two key birdies on the back nine to close with a 4-under 66 and win the Sony Open for his second PGA Tour title this season.
It wasn’t as easy as his four-shot victory over Andrew Putnam might indicate.
Having made only one bogey through 54 holes to build a two-shot lead, Kuchar had three bogeys in his opening five holes Sunday and fell one shot behind Putnam, and he had to make a 10-foot birdie putt at the turn to avoid falling two shots behind.
Kuchar caught him with an aggressive pitch up the slope on the par-4 10th hole. They remained tied with five holes to play when Putnam made bogey from a deep bunker left of the 14th green, and Kuchar made a pair of 12-foot birdie putts on the next two holes to seize control.
Just like that, his lead was three shots, making for a pleasant walk up the par-5 18th.
Kuchar became the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season, having ended a drought of more than four years when he captured the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico last November. It was only the second time in his career Kuchar has won twice in the same season. He won the Match Play Championship and the Memorial in 2013. Now, he has the meat of the season in front of him.
“I want to see how great this year can be,” Kuchar said.
He finished at 22-under 258, the third-lowest total in Waialae history behind the PGA Tour record of 253 by Justin Thomas in 2017 and Jimmy Walker’s 72-hole score of 257 when he won in 2015.
Putnam, who won his first PGA Tour title last summer at the Barracuda Championship, didn’t blink until that approach into the bunker that led to his lone bogey, and he couldn’t make enough putts to stay close to Kuchar the rest of the way.
He closed with a 68 and moved into the top 50 for the first time in his career.
Corey Conners of Canada, who got into the field through a Monday qualifier, had a 64-64 weekend and was among four players who tied for third, though none had a serious chance of challenging what amounted to a two-player race at the top.
Even so, the performance was big for Conners, who narrowly missed a full PGA Tour card last year. Along with his runner-up finish in the Sanderson Farms Championship last fall, he has nearly as many FedEx Cup points as last year when he finished at No. 130.
Marc Leishman (64), Hudson Swafford (64) and Chez Reavie (67) also finished in a tie for third.
Davis Love III, who first played the Sony Open in 1986, missed by one shot matching the lowest 72-hole score of his career. His 64-65 weekend gave him a tie for seventh, and he now heads off to Singapore with hopes of earning a spot in the British Open.
But this day ultimately belonged to Kuchar, who won for the ninth time in his career.
Matt Kuchar hits from the first tee during the final round of the Sony Open PGA Tour event on Sunday in Honolulu. Kuchar earned his second win of the season with a four-shot victory.