Matt Kuchar was in danger of fading away early in his final round at Waialae Country Club, having made three bogeys in his first five holes and losing the two-shot lead he began the day with. But he put together a furious rally, playing his final 10 holes in six-under to card a closing 66, enough for a four-shot victory over Andrew Putnam.
“That was not at all what I was looking for,” Kuchar said of the shaky start. “I knew I was playing well, so I tried to stay confident, I’m playing good golf. Some of the bogeys, it was a three-putt and a bad wedge shot, that’s just so uncharacteristic.”
Putnam took advantage, and appeared like he might be the one to pull away after hitting his bunker shot to tap-in range at the par-5 ninth, setting up an easy birdie to go up two shots. But Kuchar poured in his 10-foot birdie putt right after, keeping the deficit at one. He then proceeded to shoot a back-nine 30, closing out his second victory in his past three starts, and the ninth win of his career.
“Andrew was tough there, he was battling me. He took the lead and it was nice to have that pressure and be able to make some birdies coming in. I’ve never had a cushion like this coming down the last, getting that birdie on 15, getting that birdie on 16, that made 18 awfully nice to play.”
Kuchar, 40, joins Xander Schauffele as the first two multiple winners on tour this season. And in an uncanny link with last season, Kuchar matched defending champion Patton Kizzire in winning at Mayakoba and the Sony Open in Hawaii. The win puts Kuchar in prime position to make the Tour Championship, which he missed last season for the first time in eight years. It also makes him close to a sure thing to make his fifth consecutive Presidents Cup team.
For Putnam, it’s the second runner-up finish of his career, and his fifth inside the top five. Marc Leishman, Hudson Swafford, Corey Conners and Chez Reavie tied for third, while Davis Love III, at age 54, finished alone in seventh.