RBC Heritage

McCombs: Kuchar's shot forever woven into Heritage's tartan fabric

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 20, 2014 

In the 46 years the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing has existed as a PGA Tour event, it has accumulated more than its fair share of memories.

From Arnold Palmer's win in the inaugural Heritage in 1969 to Bernhard Langer winning the tartan jacket in 1985, a week after winning a green one in Augusta, to Payne Stewart becoming the first to win back-to-back Heritages in 1989 and 1990.

But rarely have the memories of a particular tournament boiled down to a single shot.

Two come to mind: Stewart Cink's controversial wedge shot from the waste area on No. 16 to set up birdie and a win in 2004 and Davis Love III's 66-foot chip in for birdie to set up a playoff with Woody Austin and eventually, his fifth tartan jacket.

You can add Matt Kuchar's sand shot on 18 on Sunday to the list.

And Kuchar's bunker shot has a leg up on those two shots. It gave him the win. It didn't put him in position for birdie. It didn't set up a playoff.

It won it.

"I watched it roll," Kuchar said. "I heard the crowd go crazy when the thing disappeared. I went crazy myself. It was just an incredible feeling."

Before the shot, Kuchar was aware of what was at stake.

"I knew," Kuchar said. "I looked at the scoreboard and I knew at that time when I walked up to the green I was tied with Luke Donald. I knew where I stood."

But Kuchar wasn't thinking about sinking the shot. He was just hoping to make a good shot and get up and down. Instead, he won it.

Though, it may not have won it. There was a chance Luke Donald could have caught him. But ironically, Donald would have had to hit his own miraculous shot to cancel out Kuchar's. And we'd be talking about a different memory in this space.

But like so many times before for Donald at Harbour Town, it wasn't to be.

It doesn't hurt that Kuchar is a fan favorite. Most fans will embrace this memory.

Kuchar has been a darling of golf fans and media alike since he tied for 21st as low amateur at the 1998 Masters. The Georgia Tech golfer won over television audiences and patrons with his constant smile and personality at Augusta on the way to winning the Haskins Award as the nation's top amateur golfer.

Before this final round at Harbour Town, Kuchar had been struggling a bit with Sundays lately. A month of close calls culminated with Kuchar's fade from the lead to fifth on Sunday at the Masters.

But this Sunday was different.

"He hit an awesome shot," Beaufort's Mark Anderson said. "That was really cool to see him make it, because he has played so well -- the last 10 years, but especially the last two months -- and it was really cool to see him get the 'W.' "

Kuchar said he simply kept doing what he was doing and it finally paid off.

"I always believe that things are going to go my way," Kuchar said. "You get some good breaks, you get some bad breaks. But as long as you accept it and look forward to whatever is next, I think things tend to go your way."

This time, the shot definitely went Kuchar's way. And we'll be talking about it for a long time to come.

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