In almost every Hollywood movie, it’s the nice guy who always finishes last. The nice guy is always there to lend an ear when his best female friend, who he’s secretly in love with, is having problems with her boyfriend. She says, “Why can’t he be more like you?” But, the nice guy can’t compete with the bad boy who turns his life around to become the perfect man. I’m here to tell you though that the movie screen is not the only place where the nice guy can fall short.
Matt Kuchar is known as one of the nicest players on the PGA Tour, as well as one of the most consistent. He introduced himself to the golf world at the 1998 Masters as a fresh-faced young phenomenon who took home the low amateur award and finished in the Top 30 overall. Kuchar turned pro in 2000 and won his first pro tournament in 2002 at the Honda Classic. He fell on hard times in 2005 when he lost his tour card and had to earn his way back on the Nationwide Tour. Kuchar fought and got his game to a point where he is the currently ranked as the 5th best player in the world according to the world golf rankings. Since 2010, Kuchar has five wins, 45 Top-10 finishes, and has earned over 20 million dollars on tour. There is no doubt that Kuchar is one of the top players on the PGA Tour today but like a lot of good golfers playing today, the major championship victory has eluded him to this point.
The fact that there are so many big name players on the tour today that also do not have a major championship under their belt should make Matt Kuchar feel like he is in good company. Jason Day hasn’t been consistent for all four days. Sergio Garcia has said it himself that he doesn’t have the mental game. Lee Westwood’s short game has failed him more times than I can count. Brandt Snedeker cannot close on a Sunday when it counts the most. Dustin Johnson has problems managing the courses, case and point the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits – we all know what happened there. I could go on listing the guys who have come up short and why they haven’t been able to close, but the point is, these guys are still all considered the top players in the world despite no major championship titles between them.
The seemingly always smiling Kuchar has had his toughness questioned at times, but big wins at the Players in 2012 and the WGC-Match Play earlier this year have shown he’s made strides as a competitor. He also has a T3 at the 2012 Masters, T6 at the 2010 US Open, T9 at the 2012 Open Championship and T10 at the 2010 PGA Championship. The 2014 Masters, Kuchar was in great position coming into play on Sunday, down just one stroke to the leaders Jordan Spieth and eventual winner Bubba Watson. It looked like it was going to be his day when he birdied two of the first three holes, but a double bogey on the Par 3 4th hole killed all his momentum and finished shooting a final round 74 which was good enough for a share of 5th place.
I can’t say Matt Kuchar will be the next marquee player without a major title to finally get over the hump and win one. But, he can play the game of golf at an extremely high level and maybe one day soon this nice guy can finally finish first at a major.