It’s hard to forget the Sunday finale’ at The Accenture Match Play Championship in 2013. The two remaining competitors, eventual winner, Matt Kuchar, and 2012 Champion, Hunter Mahan were fighting 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures that were more suited for skiing than golf. 60 of the 64 players who began the trek on Wednesday were all sipping cocktails in Ft. Lauderdale and were like the rest of us, watching it on television. The question is, can The Kuch repeat in nicer weather?
If the 35 year-old Matt Kuchar wants to repeat at The Jack Nicklaus designed Dove Mountain Resort in 2014, he will have to play much better than he did last week at Riviera where he missed the cut for the first time since the 2012 PGA Championship. I personally think the Georgia Tech grad just had a bad week, and is not representative of the state of his golf game.
With 64 of the world’s top 68 players, and half of them coming from the European Tour where they have inherent match play instincts, Kuchar will need his A Game this week. He will need to brush off the missed cut, and get down to business early. The format at Dove Mountain is win and continue, lose and go home, so there is no room for mistakes. Mistakes are your ticket to the Florida Swing and next week’s Honda Classic.
In fact, if you throw out the missed cut last week, Matt hasn’t finished out of the top ten since the wrap around schedule started back in October. At the first WGC event in Shanghai back in November he picked up a solid fourth place result. Since the calender turned over to 2014, he picked up a T6 on Maui at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and a T8 in Honolulu the following week.
I personally think the field is too strong with good match play people this week for him to pull off the repeat, but as a #2 seed in the Gary Player Division, he draws Berndt Wiesbeger from Austria in the first round, and has a pretty easy road to the quarterfinals. The best player in his part of the bracket is Jordan Spieth, and as we seen in the Presidents Cup, the youngster lives and dies by his putter.
He may have trouble getting out of the third round, because there are some very strong players in the other half of the division. Justin Rose, Ernie Els, and Jason Dufner. It won’t be easy getting to the semi finals this year! But who knows, he did it last year, and stands as good a chance as anyone else.
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