In the top 20
Baylor School graduate Keith Mitchell tosses a ball to his caddy on the first green during the final round of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open on Sunday in Honolulu. Mitchell closed with a 2-over-par 72 and tied for 16th as Matt Kuchar won the tournament.
HONOLULU — Matt Kuchar overcame three early bogeys that cost him the lead with flawless golf and two key birdies on the back nine, closing with a 4-under-par 66 to win the Sony Open for his second PGA Tour title of the 2018-19 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 PGA Tour career Kuchar has won twice in the same season. He won the Match Play Championship and the Memorial in 2013.
And now the former Georgia Tech standout 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 Country Club 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 in the World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.
Four players tied for third, though none had a serious chance of challenging what amounted to a two-player race at the top.
Three Baylor School graduates were among the top 30 entering the final round. Keith Mitchell (72) tied for 16th at 12 under, Harris English (67) wound up sharing 22nd at 10 under and Stephan Jaeger (70) tied for 43rd at 7 under.
Matt Kuchar hits from the second tee during the final round of the Sony Open on Sunday in Honolulu. Kuchar won by four strokes.