Kuchar shrugs off Masters fade, ties Heritage lead

Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:54pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Matt Kuchar shrugged off his Masters near-miss last week to share the lead after the opening round of the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Thursday.

Kuchar, who contended in Sunday's final round at Augusta National before slipping back into a tie for fifth, put that disappointment behind him and shot a five-under-par 66 on a cool, breezy morning at Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island.

"Once I got out there this morning, I was ready to go," the six-times PGA Tour winner told Golf Channel after finishing in style with a 15-foot birdie on his final hole, the par-four ninth.

Kucher ended the round level with fellow Americans William McGirt and Scott Langley, both of whom played in the warmer and less difficult conditions of the afternoon.

Indeed, Kuchar was the only morning starter to break 69.

"I didn't miss many shots. I found the fairways a lot, not only the fairways but the right (correct) side of the fairways to have a good approach," said the 35-year-old said.

"I had very good control off the tee and found a lot of greens (with my irons). This morning was tricky, so to shoot five birdies, no bogey, was really good."

Kuchar has been the hottest golfer on tour the past three weeks, finishing no worse than fifth, though he has conspicuously failed to close the deal, most notably at the Houston Open where he bogeyed the final hole of regulation before losing a playoff.

The world number six said he would guard against mental and physical fatigue in his fourth consecutive tournament by avoiding the practice range for the rest of the week, instead spending his off-course time relaxing with his family.   Continued...

Matt Kuchar of the U.S. hits from the sand on the 16th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan