RIO DE JANEIRO -- Maybe it takes awhile to wake up from The Zone.
Because Matt Kuchar looked dazed after shooting an Olympic golf final-round 63, securing a bronze medal for the United States and tying the low round in the brief history of golf in the Games.
“I can assure you I’ve never been so excited to finish in the top three in my life,” he told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands. “I can’t explain to you the pride I feel just burning out of my chest. It’s something I haven’t felt before.”
The 38-year-old American, who earned a spot in Rio after Jordan Spieth declined to participate, drove down the center of the 18th and needed eagle to have any hopes of a medal beyond the bronze. Laying up left, he was greeted by the grandstand crowd with multiple “Koooch” choruses, which he acknowledged with a cool low hand wave. Kuchar wedged his third shot to 17 feet, leaving a birdie putt just short for 62, even after noting to himself that he was 17 for 17 on getting putts to the hole.
As he exited the stage toward the scoring area, Kuchar shook hands with Peter Dawson, the IGF official who worked for years on the Olympic movement, before being met with a kiss and hug from wife, Sybi. With caddie John Wood watching over him, Kuchar signed a card that included six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 10th. Unsure what the Olympic protocol was, Kuchar exited scoring and posed for photos with the volunteers in his group, who he gave signed, USA-logoed Bridgestone golf balls to as thank-yous.
Following an interview with Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, Kuchar wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. While standing behind the 18th green with Team USA leader Andy Levinson, he posed for more selfies until “teammate” Bubba Watson came off the 18th green and brought the moment into focus.
“Get your jacket!” Bubba said of the Team USA official garment fitted for all players in the event of earning a spot on the medal podium.
“I wish I could bottle this and do it all the time,” he said. “I hope to carry this momentum.”
Watson, who had a chance at the start of Sunday’s final round to medal, was ecstatic for his fellow American.
“I was grinning from ear to ear every time I looked at the leaderboard and saw he was making pars and making birdies, he was going to get a medal. As long as he signed the scorecard the right way, he was going to get a medal.”
Kuchar signed, sealed and delivered a bronze medal for USA Golf.
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