Matt Kuchar’s ‘work­ing va­ca­tion’ is off to a good start in Mex­ico

The Beaufort Gazette - - Front Page -

Matt Kuchar de­cided at the last minute to play the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic and made it look like a smart move Thurs­day.

Kuchar missed only two fair­ways at El Ca­ma­leon Golf Club, key to good scor­ing, and kept bo­geys off his card for a 7-un­der 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Do­minic Bozzelli and PGA Tour rookie Kramer Hickok.

Kuchar has gone more than four years since his last PGA Tour vic­tory. His 64 was his low­est open­ing round on tour since a 64 in the 2017 Phoenix Open.

“It’s an amaz­ing re­sort, May- akoba. So to be able to bring the fam­ily to en­joy some va­ca­tion time, it’s a bit of a work­ing va­ca­tion,” Kuchar said. “I had a good time at the of­fice, as well.”

Most play­ers did, with more than half of the 132-man field in the 60s.

Jor­dan Spi­eth was not among them. Play­ing his sec­ond straight week in the fall – and his last tour­na­ment be­fore his wed­ding – Spi­eth traded birdies and bo­geys and had to set­tle for an even-par 71, leav­ing him in need to a good round Fri­day just to stick around for the week­end.

One of his for­mer room­mates had no such is­sues.

Hickok also played col­lege golf at Texas and lived with Spi­eth in Dal­las un­til a few months ago, when all the room­mates had to find other ar­range­ments as Spi­eth pre­pares for his mar­riage to An­nie Ver­ret.

Spi­eth had his first PGA Tour vic­tory seven months af­ter leav­ing col­lege early. Hickok toiled on the Macken­zie Tour in Canada, then the Web.com Tour be­fore fi­nally mak­ing it to the big leagues. But he says he learns plenty by play­ing with Spi­eth at home.

“I’m reach­ing out when I’m home and try­ing to pick his brain a lit­tle bit here and there, but re­ally just watch­ing him play, what he does at prac­tice,” Hickok said.

Among those in the large group at 65 was Abra­ham Ancer, whose tie for fourth last week in Las Ve­gas moved him to No. 98 in the world. That made Ancer the first Mex­i­can golfer to crack the top 100 in the world rank­ing, and he car­ried that to his na­tive soil and kept mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Also at 65 were Bud Cauley as he re­turns from a car ac­ci­dent at the Me­mo­rial in early June, and de­fend­ing cham­pion Pat­ton Kizzire, who made back-to-back ea­gles on the par-5 fifth hole and by hol­ing out on the par-4 sixth.

Rickie Fowler was among those at 66.

Kuchar has slipped to No. 40 in the world, failed to reach the third round of the FedEx Cup play­offs for the first time in a decade and did not play in the Ry­der Cup for the first time in 10 years.

He still keeps up­beat on and off the golf course, and de­cided while in Las Ve­gas (a tie for 57th) to play Mayakoba.

His cad­die al­ready had other plans, so Kuchar hired a lo­cal cad­die from El Ca­ma­leon.

His wife, Sybi, also got in on the act. Kuchar was play­ing with Zach John­son, whose cad­die (Da­mon Green) be­came ill from the heat with four holes to play.

Kuchar’s wife was fol­low­ing along in the gallery and car­ried John­son’s bag the rest of the way.

“I knew she had cad­died for me be­fore and was friendly with Zach John­son, and fig­ured she would be good to han­dle it, and Zach would go easy on her,” Kuchar said.

Kuchar and John­son live at Sea Is­land on the Ge­or­gia coast.

Spi­eth was 2 un­der through eight holes un­til he dropped three shots over the next eight holes. Go­ing back to an old driver didn’t help as he hit only six fair­ways, mak­ing it tough to score for any­one out of the rough.

“If you’re not driv­ing it well, this course is ex­tremely hard,” Kuchar said.

“If you’re driv­ing it well, you can make some birdies, which I was able to do to­day.”

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