Kuchar wins Sony for sec­ond ti­tle of sea­son

San Antonio Express-News - - WEATHER - By Doug Ferguson

HONOLULU — Matt Kuchar didn’t have the start he wanted Sun­day in the Sony Open, not with three bo­geys in five holes af­ter mak­ing just one through three rounds.

The fin­ish was bet­ter than he could have imag­ined.

Kuchar seized con­trol late in the round with back-to-back birdie putts — the sec­ond one on No. 16 prompt­ing a rare show of emo­tion with a fist pump. And when he tapped in for a birdie and a four­shot vic­tory over An­drew Put­nam, he looked back across the sky at a rain­bow stretch­ing across the sky.

“It was too cool to have a rain­bow ap­pear on the 18th hole,” Kuchar said.

Bet­ter yet? Davis Love III, who still owns the best rain­bow-mo­ment from the 1997 PGA Cham­pi­onship at Winged Foot, was there to greet him.

Kuchar over­came his sloppy start with flaw­less golf the rest of the way — he putted for birdie on the last 13 holes — and pulled away with a crit­i­cal three-hole stretch at Wa­ialae for a 4-un­der 66 to be­come the first mul­ti­ple win­ner on the PGA Tour this sea­son. He won the Mayakoba Clas­sic in Mex­ico two months ago — an­other fin­ish that was tighter than it needed to be.

Not bad for a 40-year-old who ended last sea­son fail­ing to get to the Tour Cham­pi­onship for the first time since 2009 and end­ing his streak of play­ing on eight con­sec­u­tive teams in the Ry­der Cup and Pres­i­dents Cup.

“I was pretty frus­trated,” Kuchar said. “I think the frus­trat­ing thing was I felt like I was do­ing some good things and just not see­ing re­sults. That some­times is hard to take, when you think you’re on the right course and the right path and not see­ing re­sults. Nice to see it turn around.”

This wasn’t as easy as a fourstroke vic­tory might in­di­cate.

Trail­ing for the first time on the week­end, Kuchar was on the verge of go­ing two shots down at the turn when Put­nam hit a 30-yard bunker shot to inches of the cup. Kuchar blasted out weakly and holed the 10-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth to stay in range. He caught Put­nam on the next hole with an ag­gres­sive pitch-and-run up the slope. Af­ter trad­ing birdies, they were tied with five holes to play.

Put­nam made his only mis­take with a 9-iron into a deep bunker left of the 14th green, lead­ing to bo­gey. Kuchar fol­lowed with 12-foot birdie putts on the next two holes, and he was on his way to his ninth ca­reer vic­tory.

Kuchar 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.

“I’m feel­ing a lit­tle let down right now,” Put­nam said af­ter clos­ing with a 68. “I’m sure when I think about it … a lot of good things have hap­pened. Just needed to make some bet­ter swings. Kuch was mak­ing birdies and played great com­ing down the stretch. I just couldn’t keep up with him.”

Put­nam, who won the Bar­racuda Cham­pi­onship last sum­mer and was run­ner-up to Dustin John­son at the FedEx St. Jude Clas­sic, moves into the top 50 in the world for the first time in his ca­reer at No. 45.

Now, he has the meat of the sea­son in front of him.

“I want to see how great this year can be,” Kuchar said.

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Im­ages

Matt Kuchar, who waited four years be­tween vic­to­ries be­fore win­ning again in Novem­ber, won the Sony Open on Sun­day.

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