Although the weather stole most of the headlines in Tucson, Arizona, it was Matt Kuchar who was holding the trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Kuchar braved the weather and defeated defending champion Hunter Mahan 2 and 1 in the championship match on Sunday to take the title.
The championship got off to a rocky start Wednesday when the first round of play was halted due to snow in Arizona. The weather was also a major factor in the championship match. The winds were gusting over 30 miles per hour and the temperature barely crept over 40 degrees—they were brutal conditions for both players to play through.
Due to the nature of match play, the championship was not delayed past Sunday. The only thing about the schedule that the weather affected was that the final match was an 18-hole affair, as opposed to the usual 36-hole match.
Kuchar played well all week and never had to play the 18th hole. His two longest matches were against Sergio Garcia in the second round and against Mahan in the championship final.
This was his fifth career victory on the PGA Tour and it was also one of the biggest. As one of the most likeable players on the PGA Tour, Kuchar has evolved into one of the biggest stars of American golf.
After a stellar amateur career where he was an All-American at Georgia Tech, won the United States Amateur and contended at both the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open, great things were expected from Kuchar once he turned professional.
However, things did not go according to plan.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Kuchar struggled with his game and spent most of his early years as a pro on the Nationwide Tour.
After spending years on both tours, Kuchar finally hit his stride and lived up to his potential in 2010. That year, he made the Ryder Cup team, won The Barclays playoff event, won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour and finished as the tour’s leading money winner.
He has become one of the most consistent players on tour and a fixture around the leaderboard in the past few years.
In 2012, Kuchar won the Players Championship, which is the biggest victory of his career. Now, by backing up that win with another huge victory at a World Golf Championship event, Kuchar has established himself as one of the elite players in the world. The only thing missing from his résumé is a major championship.
Kuchar did not back into this victory. He defeated the likes of Sergio Garcia, Nicolas Colsaerts and Jason Day on his way to the title.
Not only was this a big win for Kuchar’s career, but it was also a huge win for American golf in general. As witnessed at the last few Ryder Cups, Europeans have a huge edge over Americans in match-play situations. Their prowess has manifested itself in this tournament.
There has been at least one European in the finals of this tournament in five of the last six years, including two all-European finals in 2010 and 2011.
Besides Kuchar, players like Jason Day, Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter also had exceptional performances in the desert.
Day struggled throughout 2012 after having a phenomenal 2011 season where he finished second at both the Masters and the U.S. Open. This finish is an indication that he is turning around his game and regaining the form that made him one of the most exciting young players on tour.
Mahan and Poulter both have a history of success at this tournament. Mahan won the tournament last year by defeating Rory McIlroy in the final match in impressive fashion and Poulter won it in 2010.
Kuchar’s performance in Arizona adds to the list of notable champions early in the 2013 season. With the likes of Mickelson, Woods, Snedeker and Kuchar winning, the stage is set for an entertaining 2013 season where the best of the best are hitting their strides.
As a golf fan, what more could you ask for?
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