Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck five-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 bunker, “there are a lot worse places to be.”
For Kuchar, there was no better place — and no better shot in the tournament.
He holed-out on the closing hole for a one-stroke victory on Sunday, hitting it solid and watching it rattle home to end a run where he came close, but missed out on titles.
“I heard the crowd go crazy,” Kuchar said. “Then I went crazy.”
Kuchar shot a 64 for an 11-under total of 273 to overhaul Luke Donald, who had his third runner-up and fifth top-three finish at Hilton Head Island in the past six years.
It was Kuchar’s seventh career PGA Tour victory. He earned US$1.044 million and his first trophy since the Memorial in June last year.
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 the previous week, having a share of the lead on the final, before a four-putt double-bogey at the fourth hole dropped him from contention.
World No. 6 Kuchar could have 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 four shots on Donald with seven birdies in his first 10 holes. Then nearly gave away another tournament when he three-putted from less than eight feet at the par-three 17th, a bogey that dropped him into a share of top spot — and set up the dramatic 72nd hole.
“I was in a little bit of shock, but I think I did a good job of shaking things off,” Kuchar said.
Donald had two holes to catch Kuchar, but could not do it. He missed a 28-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, then saw his attempt at a chip-in birdie slide past the cup.
“Finishing second isn’t what I was hoping for,” Donald said. “Disappointed, obviously, not to have won. Usually a solid 69 on a windy day with a two-shot lead is enough to get it done on Sundays. It’s tough to win out here and hats off to Matt for a superb round.”
Ben Martin, who turned professional in 2010, shot a 67 to finish tied for third place at nine-under with John Huh, who shot a 68.