Matt Kuchar celebrates his birdie on the 18th green on Sunday. ( AP-Yonhap)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina (AP) ― 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.
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 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 were 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.
Kuchar made up the four shots on Donald with seven birdies in his first 10 holes.