IRVING, Texas — For the last year-plus, a debate has been brewing in the world of golf: Who is the best American player?
Names like Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker have been bandied about, but one name that always seemed to miss out on the conversation was Matt Kuchar.
Mr. Consistent had no problem making top 10s in bunches, but over the last couple of years, he seemed to have trouble doing the one thing needed to be part of the discussion. He couldn’t win on a consistent basis.
Sure, he had a couple victories, including one at the Barclays, but until last week, Kuchar was still on the outside looking in — a good, but not great, golfer who seemed to be content cashing six-figure checks and heading to the next tour stop.
But all that could be changing. Kuchar’s the same guy with the million-dollar smile, but after Friday’s 2-under 68 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, it looks like he’s on the verge of finding the missing gear needed to be a great player … and possibly the top American in the world.
Currently one shot back of Jason Dufner at 6-under, Kuchar has a great chance to become the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2009 to go back-to-back on the PGA Tour. And judging by the way he’s playing at the moment, nobody would be surprised if that happened on Sunday afternoon — especially if the putter stays red-hot.
The one club in his bag that always seemed to go cold at the most inopportune time, Kuchar’s rolling it better than anyone on tour at the moment, and capitalizing on some incredible GIR numbers.
In his last six rounds, Kuchar’s hitting almost 75 percent of his greens, which is close to his 68.98 average. The difference between earlier in the year and right now, however, is he’s converting putts.
One week after he averaged 1.642 putts per GIR at The Players, he’s averaging 1.593 at the Nelson. And assuming Kuchar can continue to capitalize on his opportunities, he’s going to be tough to beat.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but in Matt Kuchar’s case, they give you a good idea of what’s made him so successful over the last couple weeks. If he keeps this up, there will be no question who America’s best golfer is heading into the U.S. Open.