WGC-Dell Match Play
Matt Kuchar's match-play luck ends when he can't hole a putt longer than three feet in the semifinals
AUSTIN — When Matt Kuchar’s birdie try on the 18th hole from eigth feet raced by the cup, and he had fallen to Scottie Scheffler, 1 up, in their Sunday semifinal clash at the WGC-Dell Match Play, it wasn’t all that surprising. As the AP's Doug Ferguson first noticed, Kuchar hadn't made a ton of putts throughout the round, a far cry from the previous four days when he won five matches and continued to exhibit his uncanny knack for success in this event. But a quick review of the round against Scheffler found that the longest putt Kuchar made all day was a three-foot, six-inch par putt on the seventh hole.
Of course, this comes with a few caveats, like the fact that certain putts are conceded in match play that would not be otherwise—a chief example his nine-foot par putt on the ninth, which was never attempted after Scheffler made birdie—and sometimes a lack of long putts is simply due to excellent approaches or chips.
That said, the odd stat has a certain amount of relevance in this particular match, and accurately reveals the fact that Kuchar had a lot of missed opportunities on the green. He'll likely remember his missed eight-footer on 18 the longest, since that would have tied the match and sent it to a playoff, but a look at the rest of his round tells a story of what might have been:
First hole: Missed 10-footer for birdie, hole halved
Third: Missed 23-footer for birdie, hole halved
Fourth: Missed 12-footer for birdie, won hole when Scheffler missed short par putt
Fifth: Missed 32-footer for birdie, hole halved
Sixth: Missed 22-footer for birdie, hole halved
Eighth: Missed 18-footer for birdie, hole halved
Tenth: Missed 10-footer for birdie, hole halved
Eleventh: Missed 24-footer for birdie, hole lost
Thirteenth: Missed 27-footer for birdie, hole won
Fourteenth: Missed 18-footer for birdie, hole halved
Fifteenth: Missed 30-footer for birdie, hole halved
Sixteenth: Missed 13-footer for birdie, hole halved
Seventeenth: Missed 13-footer for birdie, hole lost
Eighteenth: Missed eight-footer for birdie, hole halved
Granted, some of those opportunities are better than others—nobody expects him to make a 32-footer—but for literally none of them to go in was obviously punitive, and Kuchar paid a big price. The average of those 14 putts is just more than 18 feet, and when you take that into consideration, you would not expect a player of Kuchar's caliber to go 0-14. He's one of the great players in the history of this event—second to Tiger Woods, in terms of career wins—but on Sunday, he couldn't find the touch when he needed it.