American Matt Kuchar will arrive in Australia ahead of next week’s ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf with a spring in his step and a trophy under his arm after notching his eighth PGA TOUR victory.
Kuchar, who turned 40 in June, withheld a strong challenge from World Cup-bound New Zealander Danny Lee to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico by one shot for his first win on the PGA TOUR since 2014.
Kuchar won with a score of 22-under 262, the lowest 72-hole score in tournament history.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin, India’s Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s Si Woo Kim all recorded top-10 finishes ahead of their trip to Melbourne to lead their respective nations in the unique World Cup team format.
Kuchar will arrive in Sydney for the Australian Open at The Lakes and will then head to Melbourne’s Metropolitan Golf Club for the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf which commences Thursday week .
“For two weeks to get to play a national championship, the Australian Open, is something I'm very, very excited to do,” Kuchar said after this win.
“And then World Cup's a great event. I am really excited, back to a fun format. I'm partnering with Kyle Stanley. I was able to win a few years back with Gary Woodland. To think of the great history that the World Cup has, the likes of Arnold and Jack have paired up and won it, Tiger and Duval have won it, Davis Love and Fred Couples have won numerous times. It's rich with history and one I'm really excited about playing both those events.”
“It's a wonderful country with great people. They love their golf, love their sport. Golf is fantastic. They're always very supportive.”
Starting the final round with a four-shot lead, and with a car waiting at the clubhouse to whisk him to the airport for the long journey to Sydney for this week’s Australian Open, Kuchar survived back-to-back bogeys on the back nine and two nervy three footers for par on 17 and 18 to win by a shot.
“I didn’t want a 3-footer on the last hole,” Kuchar said. “I was hoping to have a three or four-shot lead for some wiggle room. But man, that felt awfully good,” Kuchar said.
“That was some of the best ball-striking I’ve had, and through 60 some holes, awfully good putting. And then the putter kind of went a little bit on the fritz there coming in. It’s been a long time for me. It feels extra sweet right now.”
It was the popular American’s eighth tour win and comes off the back of four top-10 finishes in 2018. Kuchar only added a start this week to his schedule at the last minute and needed a local caddy to fill in for regular bagman John Wood who was already en route to Australia.
Kuchar is travelling to Australia with his wife Sybi and two sons, who all rushed to the 18th green to congratulate him on his victory.
“It nearly brought some tears to my eyes having the family here to see that on 18. To have them there for support is - they've been such a big part of my life, and this past year, '18 was tough for me getting knocked out early in the Playoffs and not be selected to the Ryder Cup, there were some pretty big disappointments. And having my wife as strong as she is and as great as she is, she's cheering me on, having the boys keep cheering me on, it's a special support system. I owe them a ton of gratitude.”
The 59th staging of the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will see the 56-players representing 28 nations in the two-man team competition vie for the largest prize-money purse in Australian golf, with $US7 million on offer. The 72-hole stroke play team format will feature Four-ball (best ball) play in the first and third rounds and Foursomes (alternate shot) play in the second and final rounds.
Australia’s Marc Leishman, fresh from his fourth PGA TOUR win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, will be the top ranked player in the tournament. Leishman will have rising young Queensland star Cameron Smith alongside as the Australians seek to win the coveted trophy for the first time since Adam Scott and Jason Day prevailed at Royal Melbourne in 2013.
Australia will be up against a strong field of international players, including two-time PGA TOUR winner Kyle Stanley, who selected Kuchar as his partner for Team USA. England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter will also be amongst the favourites as will the winning duo from Denmark who will return to defend their title, with Ryder Cup debutant Thorbjørn Olesen to again partner with Soren Kjeldsen.
South Africa will have a strong hand, with eight-time European Tour winner Branden Grace and fellow Presidents Cup veteran and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel making their second start in the World Cup of Golf.
Other notables include two-time major champion and former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer as well as World Golf Championships winner Shane Lowry who will be joined by Maximilian Kieffer and Paul Dunne as their respective partners for Team Germany and Team Ireland.
Leishman and Grace are among eight players who have played on past International Teams at the Presidents Cup. Kim, Schwartzel, Lahiri, Lee, Hadwin and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas round out that list.
Ticket options range from Wednesday practice round tickets starting at $27.00, single-day competitive round tickets starting at $36.00 and tickets to the upgraded MacKenzie Club (Thursday to Sunday) starting at $90.00. Weekly tickets are also available for $125, with a MacKenzie Club option priced at $300.
Ticket buyers are reminded that youth under the age of 16 are admitted to the event free of charge when accompanied by a ticketed adult. To purchase tickets or find more information on ticket options, fans can log on to www.WorldCupofGolf.com.
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Score Return; Australasian results around the world - 19 - 26th March 2019
Australasian results from around the world: Week of 19 - 26th March, 2019