Kuchar grabs 2nd vic­tory of sea­son

He starts Hawaii va­ca­tion with four­shot win over Put­nam that wasn’t easy

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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 YORK/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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