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Kuchar, the people’s champ, is The Players champ

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Matt Kuchar seems like the nicest guy in the world. And he probably is. He is known for his loping stride and easy smile, the Florida kid who has a permanent spot on weekday leaderboards in big tournaments.

It’s appropriate that Kuchar picked up the most significant win of his career on Mother’s Day; it was his mother’s idea to upgrade the family club membership to include golf when little Matt Kuchar was just 12. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kuchar has ben around so long that you forget that he is only 33 years old and just entering the sweet spot of most professional golfers’ careers. He appeared on the golf scene in 1998, taking low amateur honors at the Masters as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. Along with having a game that was far advanced for his tender age, Kuchar won the golf world over instantly, playing the most revered tournament in the world with a smile on his face, his heart on his sleeve and his father on his bag. It looked like the mild-mannered Southerner and the then-precocioius Tiger Woods would play patty cake with the Green Jacket for years to come.

As everyone knows, Woods evolved into a player with a game and a life that were unlike any other. For Kuchar, the path has been more conventional. Kuchar’s first win on the PGA Tour came at the 2002 Honda Classic; however, by 2006 he was on the Nationwide Tour after failing to earn enough money to qualify for the PGA Tour. He won the Nationwide Tour’s 2006 Henrico County Open and finished 10th on the money list to earn his 2007 PGA Tour card. He retained his card in 2007 by finishing 115th on the money list and again in 2008 by finishing 70th.

Seven years after his first PGA Tour win, Kuchar won for a second time during the 2009 Fall Series at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in a playoff over Vaughn Taylor. Kuchar made the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team by earning enough points to take the 8th, and last position, awarded on points. At the time Kuchar led the PGA Tour in top-10 finishes for the year, but had not won a tournament in 2010. The winless streak ended at The Barclays in 2010, where Kuchar defeated Martin Laird on the first hole of a sudden death playoff.

Kuchar has had a career of distinction, winning the Vardon Trophy and Byron Nelson Award in 2010 for lowest scoring average and the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list. And yet the major title that would put him into the mix as one of the most significant players of his generation seemed to elude him. It was as if someone didn’t want him to be a child prodigy, to achieve success without acquiring a few of the experiences that most men have in common. His swing and his putting stroke have undergone changes that have made him into a solid ball-striker and a reliable putter under pressure. His flat-planed swing wraps tightly around his 6’4” frame; frankly, it looks weird but it saved his career. He can repeat his move under pressure, which makes him a threat at virtually every major. Kuchar’s best ever finish at a major came at this year’s Masters, where he finished behind champion Bubba Watson and Louis “The Albatross” Oosthuizen.  Barring the once-in a-lifetime heroics of those two, Kuchar would have green jacket to his credit and would be looking to add a U.S. Open title at The Olympic Club in June. As it stands, Kuchar’s victory at TPC Sawgrass establishes him as a favorite to win at the major championship that is most like the Players’ in terms of the mental and physical challenges. For those that would dismiss him, they should note what Kuchar said when told by a beat reporter at last year’s U.S. Open at Congressional that he was the reporter’s pick to win that week.

“Oh yeah?”, remarked Kuchar with the trademark grin. He turned to walk away, turned back and with a wink said, “Good choice.”

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Bill Haas injured in fatal car crash in Los Angeles

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Bill Haas was involved in a fatal car crash in Pacific Palisades, Calif., site of the Genesis Open, Tuesday night.

The 35-year-old was riding in the passenger seat of a Ferrari driven by a member of the family with whom Haas is staying this week. According to LA County fire officials, the Ferrari collided with a BMW driven by a 50-year-old woman. Haas and the driver of the BMW were transported to a local hospital. The 71-year-old male driver of the Ferrari was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Ferrari also reportedly “clipped” a vehicle driven by actor Luke Wilson prior to the rollover. Wilson was not injured, per a police report.

Per PGATour.com, Bill Haas’ manager, Allen Hobbs of Players Group Management, released the following statement Wednesday morning.

“Last night in Pacific Palisades, California, Bill Haas was involved in a serious car accident in which the driver—a member of the family with whom Haas and his family were staying for the Genesis Open—was killed. While Bill escaped serious injuries and has been released from the hospital, he is understandably shaken up and—more importantly—his deepest condolences go out to the host family during this tragic and difficult time.“

“Bill will withdraw from the Genesis Open and plans to head home to Greenville to recover. He appreciates the support of friends, family and the golf world as a whole, and he has asked for privacy as he processes what has happened.“

Geoff Shackelford tweeted this video of the KTLA coverage of the crash.

Bill Haas’ father, Jay, spoke with Todd Lewis on Golf Channel’s morning drive earlier in the day, saying his son was “very fortunate.” Beyond swelling in one of his legs and pain, Haas sustained no serious injuries, according to his father.

See the discussion in the forums here

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