KUCHAR STARTS HAWAII VA­CA­TION WITH VIC­TORY IN SONY OPEN

The News Tribune - - Sports - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

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 Univer­sity Place’s 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 twoplayer race at the top.

Even so, the per­for­mance was big for Con­ner, 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.

MATT YORK AP

Matt Kuchar earned a four-shot vic­tory in the Sony Open.

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