Kuchar turns consistency into victory

Matt Kuchar had already achieved his goal of becoming one of the most consistent players on the US Tour.

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On Sunday he achieved another goal when he won one of the toughest tournaments of the season, the Players Championship.

Kuchar enjoyed a stellar amateur career before he burst on to the professional scene with an early win, in 2002, at the Honda Classic, but then inconsistency started to creep into his game.

Four years later, he lost his place on the US PGA Tour and was demoted to the second-tier Nationwide Tour. He set about remodeling his game to make sure his natural ball-striking talent was allied to a solid game without the huge fluctuations in form.

With 25 top ten finishes since the start of the 2010 season, a record equalled only by world number two Luke Donald, there is no doubt the Floridian has achieved that goal.

What was missing though, since the 2010 Barclays, was a tournament victory to seal his status among the tour elite.

"I never wanted to be the guy that won once a year and missed ten cuts a year," Kuchar told reporters.

"Back when I was thinking about this, Tiger Woods was either winning or finishing second or third every week and I wanted to figure out how do I get to be like that?

"Lately Steve Stricker was that guy and it seemed that Stricker was a guy I could be more like than I could be like Tiger.

"I can't hit the shots he can but Steve and I play a similar game, a consistent game and I said I'd like to play like him," added Kuchar.

"I wanted to show up, be playing good and have a chance to win tournaments and it has gone that way. It makes life a whole lot more enjoyable than packing up Friday afternoon - that's one of the worst things," he said.

Stricker's run of 49 cuts made came to an end at TPC Sawgrass this week and fittingly it is Kuchar that takes over as the owner of the longest streak without a missed cut with his 17th straight four round performance.

He credits his time in the doldrums, on the Nationwide tour in 2006, and the work he did with coach Chris O'Connell for turning around his career.

"From the fifth golf ball I hit with Chris watching, I started hitting it better," Kuchar said.

"It has been such a big help and has helped me to make the last 17 straight cuts, to have a chance to win a lot of big tournaments," he said.

Another element that surely helped Kuchar have the confidence to finish on top at the Players was his performance at last month's Masters where he finished tied for third.

His best finish at a major came after a strong challenge on the back nine but he is not a player that obsesses over rankings and statistics as the permanent grin on his face through the final holes on Sunday illustrated.

"I love playing the game of golf. I have fun doing it. I am a golf junkie. I have to force myself to take vacations where I cannot play golf because the challenge is so addictive to me," he said.

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