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Content muses of the 2019 PGA Tour, No. 5: from stiffing caddies to grooming lies, the year in Matt Kuchar


A little something different to wrap up the year: our final five newsletters will focus on the five PGA Tour players who provided us the most delicious content in 2019. Our muses, if you will. We’ll review their quotes, their hijinks, their controversies, and much more. Much gratitude and happy holidays to each and every one of them. (And to you!)

We start with No. 5, Matt Kuchar.

The Year in Kuch

El Tucán

Our year of Kuchar actually started in November of 2018, when the aw-shucks mainstay of Golf Digest’s “Nice Guys” list won the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico with a local caddie on his bag. Two months later, with the help of some tweets from Champions Tour player Tom Gillis, it emerged that Matt Kuchar had paid David “El Tucán” Ortiz only $5,000 out of the $1,296,000 winner’s check. This slight subjected Kuchar to ridicule from fans, TV analysts, and other players—as did his initial refusal to make amends. Kuchar eventually did apologize and pay up, but the PR damage was done. 

Little did we know that Matty K was just getting started!

The non-concession

Pitted against Sergio García in the quarterfinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kuchar found himself in an awkward situation on the 7th hole. Sergio had a putt to win the hole, which he missed. He quickly backhanded the tap-in, which he also missed. Kuchar announced that he hadn’t conceded the tap-in, meaning that García lost the hole.

“I apologized,” Kuchar told the press. “I said ‘I don’t like the way this was played out.’ He said, ‘You can concede a hole.’ I thought about it and said, ‘I don’t like that idea, either.’”

Sergio wasn’t a happy camper. He was shown shouting and gesticulating at Kuchar as they walked down the next fairway.

But all’s well that ends well. Two days later, the pair released this incredibly awkward “things are cool and we’re totally friends and no our agents didn’t make us do this” video.

A pitch mark within a pitch mark

On the par-4 17th hole at the Memorial Tournament, Kuchar’s tee shot landed, bounced forward, spun back, and ended up in an old pitch mark in the fairway. Angling for a drop, Kuchar made a variety of patently absurd arguments, including that his ball had made a new pitch mark within the old one. Rules official Robby Ware denied him the drop, and Kuchar asked for a second opinion. The next rules official, Stephen Cox, also denied the drop. So of course our hero asked for a third opinion. Finally, some 15 minutes into the ordeal, he played from the lie, hit the back of the green, and two-putted for par. Ho hum.

(At the U.S. Open, Kuchar’s ask-for-a-second-opinion method got better results.)

Enter sandman

Ah, the Rules of Golf: everyone’s favorite book of vague suggestions. 

At the Porsche European Open, facing a tough shot in a waste bunker, Kuchar convinced an apparently overmatched rules official that grains of sand qualify as loose impediments. A little landscaping later, and Kuch had himself a nice lie in the bunker, much to the disgust of the European Tour announcers.

The comeback

Like any good babyface-turned-heel, Matt Kuchar ended his season with a redemption arc. Playing in the second-to-last group at the President’s Cup last weekend, Kuchar came from behind against Louis Oosthuizen and captured the winning point with a tie. Could he be the new Captain America?

Quick Hooks

More golf in Australia! The Australian PGA Championship kicks off on Thursday with defending champion Cam Smith, Adam Scott, Stewart Cink, and Min Woo Lee in the field. Tee Times

Tiger Woods and the Pebble Beach Company are teaming up to redesign the Peter Hay par-3 course. Previously an afterthought on the property (and an annual walkway for Pro-Am crowds), Peter Hay needs could certainly use some love. We hope, though, that the green fees will remain affordable. Pebble Beach CEO Bill Perocchi sounds evasive on that point in this full story from Alan Shipnuck.

King-Collins Golf Course Design, the firm behind Sweetens Cove and the in-construction Landmand, appears to be on the verge of a unique 12-hole project in Mississippi. Will Bardwell details how the duo plans to turn an abandoned country club into a quirky playground. Rebirth and Reimagining in Mississippi on Lying Four

The Latest

Shotgun Start: The 2019 Year in Review: Part I

This Wednesday episode begins with some brief news on the engagement of Vegas Dave and Holly Sonders, and then quickly addresses the massive new media rights deal for the PGA Tour. Then Brendan and Andy turn to the second annual Shotgun Start year in review, which begins with a pace somewhere between Bryson and J.B. levels. It’s a comprehensive approach that will jog your memory on some of the controversies and forgotten inanities that made this year so fun. It starts in Maui with Bryson short circuiting over how to take a knee-high drop and also putting with the pin in with great initial results. Rules furor, tipping scandals, Davis on Dru, Rickie overcoming adversity, and Phil wanting to play deep into the darkness at Pebble are some highlights of Part I but come for the smaller, forgotten side dishes with those main courses. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

For an introduction to this ongoing list, check out its home on our website.

Tobacco Road Golf Club (Sanford, North Carolina)


The best of Mike Stranz’s accessible architecture can be found in the Carolina Sandhills at Tobacco Road. The design is brash, filled with blind shots that evoke a sense of adventure and ask golfers to check notions of “fair” at the door. While the course has a few weaknesses—repetitive par 3s, an over-reliance on catch basins, and poor walkability—Strantz’s one-of-a-kind style and flair for the dramatic make it a must-see. Particularly notable is Tobacco Road’s rock-solid strategic design, which rewards daring players who stray close to hazards.

Insider tip: When Strantz presents a blind shot, there’s typically loads of room on the other side. Get over your fear of the unknown and you’ll have a far more enjoyable day. -Andy Johnson

Pro Shop

It’s Christmas bonus time! We hope the corporate overlords were good to you this year. Reward yourself with one of the framed or metal photography prints from our the pro shop. Our collection includes photos from Rustic Canyon (pictured below), Lawsonia, Streamsong, Sweetens Cove, Yale, and many more. Get yours today!