Matt Kuchar had to wait some four years for his eighth US PGA Tour win last November in Mexico at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He only needed three more starts to gain his ninth. After playing the first 54 holes with just one bogey, Kuchar opened the final round with three bogeys in his first five holes before playing the final 10 holes in six-under par (including a final-nine 30) to produce a four-shot victory over Andrew Putnam at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Kuchar took a two-stroke lead with a birdie putt of 12-and-a-half feet on the 15th then applied the crusher with another birdie at the 16th that essentially sewed things up.
Prior to his win at Mayakoba, Kuchar made a couple of changes to his equipment, including a switch from graphite shafts in his irons to steel and a change to Bridgestone’s lower-spinning Tour B X golf ball from the spinnier Tour B S model he had been using.
“My irons were starting to spin a little more due to some differences in technique that have crept into my swing,” Kuchar told Golf Digest last month. “I was looking to bring some spin down with the irons because it had gotten to be too much. I think some of the work that I’ve put in to hit the ball a little higher and spin it a little more just got to a point where I could use less spin, and this ball does that for me. I tried the Tour B X ball in Vegas and it brought the spin down. I tried a couple of drivers and the combination of the driver and ball had my ball speed going up a little bit. I thought it was a great combo.”
Indeed. Kuchar did almost everything well at Waialae Country Club. He ranked T-4 in driving accuracy; first in greens in regulation and third in strokes gained/putting. He also converted five of six sand-save opportunities.
“All of us would like to think our swings stay the same, but they do change, they do evolve, and with that, matching equipment is important,” Kuchar noted. “You want to make sure your ball and clubs match up with any change you make.”
So far, the early returns would indicate that they’ve done just that.
What Matt Kuchar had in the bag at the Sony Open in Hawaii
Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X
Driver: Bridgestone Tour B JGR (Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec 6S), 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TS2, 13.5 degrees
Hybrids: Bridgestone Tour B XD-H (18 degrees); Ping Anser (20 degrees)
Irons (5-PW): Bridgestone J15CB
Wedges: Bridgestone J40 Forged (52 degrees); Cleveland RTX-4 (56 degrees); Cleveland RTX-3 (62 degrees)
Putter: Bettinardi Kuchar Model 1