Golf

Masters notes: Matt Kuchar’s ace makes his day

Matt Kuchar reacted after his hole in one on the 16th hole during the final round of the Masters on Sunday.
Matt Kuchar reacted after his hole in one on the 16th hole during the final round of the Masters on Sunday. The Associated Press

Matt Kuchar was steady during the first three rounds of the Masters.

That continued on the front nine in Sunday’s final round. But the back nine was dynamic as Kuchar surged to a final-round 67, including a 5-under 31 on the back nine, and ended up tied for fourth at 5 under.

The highlight of the tournament for Kuchar came with his ace on the 16th hole Sunday.

“What a thrill. It’s funny, that hole has given me problems in the past,” Kuchar said. “I typically play a fade, and to that left pin, I seem to be on the right side more often than not with a very challenging 2-putt. And I said, ‘This year, go ahead and release it, don’t worry about the water’ and just flushed a shot that went straight at it, and it looked great the whole way. I still would like to see the highlights. I would like to see if I got the Bridgestone B kind of lined up just right before it trickled in. I haven’t seen the whole thing.

“But it certainly was such a thrill, and you kind of have the build-up, which is so much fun, the anticipation, and more often than not the ball slides by, and guys get real excited and then a little ‘Awww,’ gets released. And when (the fans) flipped out, it was just kind of pandemonium on the tee box and what a thrill.”

After Kuchar took his ball out of the cup, he signed it and handed it to a young fan behind the green.

“No, no, I didn’t know him at all. I think you see kids of a certain age, and you know that a memento will be special to them,” Kuchar said. “The cool part of our job is making a kid’s day. And we have an opportunity to do that quite often. With that hole-in-one, I’ve got enough hole-in-one balls. I don’t save them, so I figured this would make a kid’s day and make a kid’s year. It’s one of the neat things that we can do.”

That wasn’t the only highlight for Kuchar, however. He had a run of three straight birdies Sunday, starting on the 12th hole. And he only had one bogey on the back nine the entire tournament.

“That’s really good. That’s really good,” Kuchar said. “Certainly the way 11 played those first two days, just immensely hard. To make one bogey just those first two days on the back nine was great, and to keep going over the weekend was some good golfing for sure.”

Day has good final day

Jason Day finished strong after four tough days at the Masters.

Day birdied four holes on the back nine and ended his final round with a 1-under-par 71 on Sunday. For the tournament, however, Day posted a score of 2 over and was well out of contention by Saturday.

Day was pleased with how he performed during the second half of Sunday after a sluggish start.

“Obviously, kind of a touch-and-go week for me this week,” Day said. “I'm looking forward to coming back next year. It's always a pleasure to come here. It was a fun week.”

Day, ranked No. 3 in the world, entered the week as one of the favorites to win. He also was dealing with a ton of emotion weighing on him as his mother recently underwent an operation to remove a cancerous mass from her left lung.

He began his final round with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3 and shot a 2-over 38 on the front nine. After a bogey on No. 11, Day responded with birdies on Nos. 13, 15, 17 and 18. He shot a 3-under 33 on the final nine holes. It was the second consecutive day he shot a 33 on the back nine. Day did so Saturday en route to a 3-under 69, his best round of the tournament.

Day said it took some time to adjust to the fast and firm greens early. Once he was able to do so on the back side, Day was able to sink some shots for the solid finish.

“The hardest thing is obviously to get yourself in position,” Day said. “The next step is just capitalizing on those opportunities.”

No. 3 trips up Mickelson

Phil Mickelson was off to a sharp start Sunday.

He shot a par on No. 1 and birdied No. 2, which made it seem like Mickelson could make a move early on in the final round of the Masters.

That wouldn’t be the case.

Mickelson had a tough time on No. 3 and recorded a double-bogey for the second consecutive day. That turned out to be a hole too tough for Mickelson to overcome as he shot a 72 to finish at 2 over for the tournament.

Couples at home at Augusta

After a year away from the Masters, Fred Couples returned to his normal routine of playing well at Augusta National.

Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, shot a final-round 72 and finished at 1 over. Playing in the Masters for the 32nd time, Couples made the cut for the 29th time and earned his 20th top-25 finish.

“I was hoping to stay under par, and I had a great shot at it,” Couples said.

Daniel Shirley, dshirley@macon.com, and Jason Butt, jbutt@macon.com

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