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My Shot: Matt Kuchar

Continued (page 3 of 3)

IN THE FAMILY FOOTRACES, I've always let Cameron win. But recently, I thought I'd spoon-feed him a little dose of reality. So I beat him. But it wasn't enough to shatter his confidence. He thinks it was a fluke and will tell you he's still the fastest runner in the family. That's OK. Parenting is something we learn as we go along. Every child is different—and so is every parent.

ONE OF THE COOL THINGS about winning the 1997 U.S. Amateur was, it was televised. Let's say I'd never turned pro. As my kids grew older they'd eventually ask, "Daddy, were you a good golfer?" I'd answer "Yeah, pretty good." They'd ask, "How good were you?" And I'd say, "Good enough to have Roger Maltbie describe my lie on national television."

PHIL REMARKED last year that many of his best friendships in golf were formed during team events. It's true, but my perspective is a little different. I think back to my days at Georgia Tech and the closeness we had as a team. You become almost like brothers, really. We were young and experiencing the same things at the same time in our lives. Going to the gym together at 6 a.m., traveling, winning and losing together for years. When it ends, you can't help but yearn for that kind of camaraderie. When I played Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I could sense the same yearning in the other guys, who had the same kind of relationships in college. We all wanted to re-create that spirit. But it's hard to pull it off. It's one week. We're at different stages with different lives. Don't get me wrong; there's team spirit at the Ryder Cup. It's special. But it's not the same thing emotionally as college.

THE DAYS OF DISLIKE between the Ryder Cup sides are over. We're motivated by patriotism and a desire to win for the captains and each other. But is there a desire to stick it to the other side? No. I'm great friends with Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose. It's impossible to manufacture dislike for them. The modern Ryder Cup rivalry is similar to the Yankees and Red Sox: There's more dislike for the other side among the fans than there is with the players.

DEPENDING ON THE STATE of your game, Augusta National is either the hardest easy course in the world, or the easiest hard course. The first hole you're hanging on for dear life because it's, well, Augusta National. On the second and third holes, conditions permitting, you get aggressive. Then you hang on again until you're past the 12th hole, when you get aggressive again. What makes the challenge so great is knowing that it can be very unforgiving. If you aren't sharp, you don't shoot 71, you shoot 76.

YOU MIGHT REMEMBER my dad, Peter, who caddied for me in the 1998 Masters. He's 63 now. He and my mom, Meg, live a couple of miles from TPC Sawgrass, and he still works in the insurance business. He hits balls just about every day and might love the game more than I do. Until the Players Championship in 2012, my mom had never seen me win a golf tournament. She did everything for me when I played junior golf, but after I turned pro, she pretty much stayed home. To have her see me win for the first time, in her hometown, on Mother's Day, was pretty awesome.

SOMETIMES THE TRAIN leaves the tracks. You fall into a streak of bad shots, bad bounces, everything. But here's the thing: Never give in to that. Never say, "It's just not my day." If you do, you for sure will not turn things around. And the next time, giving up will become even easier.

AT THE 1999 WALKER CUP, they gave us a small tote bag that seemed pretty useless. But I hung on to it. Today, 15 years later, I carry it all over the place. Harris English saw it and said, "Where did you get that thing?" He envied it. The moral: Save your member-guest and pro-am trinkets. They can get better with age.

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July 28, 2014

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