Ice-cool Matt Kuchar held off a late challenge from fellow American Kevin Chappell to clinch the Memorial Tournament by two shots on Sunday. Leading by two going into the final round at Muirfield Village Golf Club,the 34-year-old Kuchar was never caught as he fired a four-under-par 68 in event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.
Kuchar birdied all four of the par-fives on the heavily tree-lined layout to remain in control and rubber-stamped his win by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-four last for a 12-under total of 276. Chappell,seeking his first PGA Tour victory,birdied four of the last six holes for a bogey-free 68 and outright second place while five-times champion Tiger Woods ended a forgettable week with a 72,finishing a distant 20 strokes off the pace.
American Kyle Stanley,who briefly cut Kuchars lead to one with a sizzling run of four birdies in five holes on the front nine,faded to a 71 for third place at seven under. Kuchar,however,reigned supreme on perhaps the easiest day for scoring in easing winds after a challenging week at Muirfield Village where strong gusts and fast greens had posed all sorts of problems for the players.
Having clinched one of the biggest victories of his career at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February,Kuchar emulated Woods as a multiple champion this season and pocketing the winners cheque for $1.116 million. Understandably,Kuchar was upbeat about his prospects looking ahead. Great golf breeds more great golf. Winning tournaments breeds more winning tournaments, said Kuchar,who will next compete in the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore,Pennsylvania.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Woods ended joint 65th in a field of 73,and conceding that he needs to clean up every aspect of his game before the upcoming U.S. Open. Though his accuracy off the tee was surprisingly good throughout the tournament,Woods totalled 119 putts during the week and paid a hefty price after running up big numbers on certain holes at a venue he knows as well as anyone.
It happens, Woods said after finishing on the second-highest score of his career. His highest in a 72-hole event was 298 at the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational The second major of the year,the June 13-16 U.S. Open at Merion in Ardmore,Pennsylvania,is fast approaching and Woods gave a succinct reply when asked which areas of his game needed improving. Everything, said the 37-year-old American,who won the most recent of his 14 major titles at the 2008 U.S. Open. You want everything clicking on all cylinders,especially at the U.S. Open,because everything is tested in the U.S. Open.