April 21, 2014 in Sports

Kuchar’s big bunker shot propels him to 1-stroke win

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Matt Kuchar collected his seventh career PGA Tour victory, earning $1.044 million
(Full-size photo)

Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.

“Well,” he thought as he walked toward the shot, “there are a lot worse places to be.”

For Kuchar, there was no better place – and no better shot in the tournament played at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

He followed with a stunning chip-in on Harbour Town Golf Link’s closing, lighthouse hole, to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end.

Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second place and fifth top-three finish here in the past six years.

Donald’s latest chance ended with Kuchar’s winning chip. He hit it solid, felt it was a good line and watched it rattle home.

“I heard the crowd go crazy,” Kuchar said. “Then I went crazy.”

Kuchar punched the air to celebrate, grabbed his cap and swung it around to the cheers of the crowd. It was Kuchar’s seventh career PGA Tour victory. He earned $1.044 million and his first trophy since the Memorial last June.

It also followed a stretch of golf in which Kuchar was in contention nearly every week.

He was two shots behind winner Steven Bowditch at the Texas Open on March 30, then lost a playoff at the Houston Open a week later on Matt Jones’ 42-yard chip in.

Kuchar was in the mix at Augusta National a week ago, having a share of the lead on Sunday before a four-putt double bogey at the fourth hole dropped him from contention.

Kuchar, at No. 6 in the world the highest-ranked golfer here, could’ve taken a break like other top competitors, but hoped the momentum would carry into Harbour Town.

“It’s awfully sweet to have another chance,” Kuchar said.

Donald was at 10-under 274 after his 69.

Ben Martin, who turned pro in 2010, shot 67 to finish tied for third at 9 under with John Huh, who shot 68.

Champions Tour

Miguel Angel Jimenez held off Bernhard Langer to win the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga., becoming only the third player to lead from start to finish in his Champions Tour debut.

Jimenez was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters and closed with a 67 for a 202 total to finish two strokes ahead of Langer. Jimenez finished the tournament with 32 consecutive holes without a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf.

Langer, the defending champion, shot his third-straight 68. Jimenez and Langer were tied at 10 under before a two-shot swing on No. 8. Jimenez needed only a short putt for a birdie, and Langer fell two strokes behind with his bogey.

Jay Haas shot 67 and was third, four shots off the lead. Fred Couples shot 70 and was fourth.

Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett finished at 221.

European Tour

Lee Westwood ended a two-year winless drought with a seven-shot victory at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After a four-hour delay due to the threat of lightning in the middle of the final round, Westwood went on to shoot a 4-under par 68 to complete an 18-under 270 at the Kuala Lumpur Country Club course for his 36th career victory.

Westwood led from start to finish in the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event that he also won in 1997.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (68), the 2012 champion, along with Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts (70) and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger (67) shared second place at 11 under.

Japan LPGA Tour

Japanese 15-year-old Minami Katsu became the youngest winner in the history of the Japan LPGA Tour by shooting a 4-under 68 to capture the Vantelin Ladies Open.

The amateur had five birdies against a lone bogey to finish at 11-under 205 for a one-stroke win.

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