Sticking to My Pick
It has been a wonderful 2013, complete with my first full season on the PGA Tour, largely with SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. My colleague, Fred Albers, who writes as an insider for PGATour.com made his mid-season predictions while we were all gathered in New Orleans in late April. It was Friday night and he asked the following questions (amongst many):
1. Name a first-time winner on Tour the rest of the season. My answer: Billy Horschel (did it two days later) and Harris English (did it in June)
2. Predict who will win the FedEx Cup. My answer: Matt Kuchar
So, here we are, just hours before the start of the Tour Championship, and I am sticking with my pick. Thankfully, Kuuuch (there is no appropriate way of spelling his nickname, btw) is inside the top 5 of FedEx Cup points heading into East Lake, which means he can win the tournament and win the cup. Our margin for error is low, however, as any finish outside of a T2 and the math doesn’t add up very well. So, why my confidence? Given his top 5 standing, I give you the top 5 reasons:
1. “Did Somebody Say 59?!” – I was with Matt on Saturday morning at Conway Farms during the third round of the BMW Championship. Birdies at 16 (nearly holed his shot from the fairway) and 17 put him in position to shoot the magic number for the second time in less than 24 hours. Of course, he needed an albatross on the closing par 5. No big deal, right? Well, he damn-near did it. hopping the ball on the green from 250+ and rolling it by the cub by a dimple or two (he 2-putted for a 61). Afterwards, when I spoke with him, he said he knew he needed to hole it for a 59, so he tried. That just shows how dialed in his game is right now when he needs it to be. [Yes, I am ignoring the 74-73-73 in the other 3 rounds. Call it hopeful blinders]
2. In that same interview, I asked Matt about knowing where he stood for FedEx Cup positioning. His answer was expected. Paraphrasing, he said he didn’t understand how anybody could play well focusing on all of that. Okay, I agree. Keep it simple. This week, win and you win. There, mind cleared. Good for Matt! Plus, he didn’t even know he was in the top 5, until Keegan Bradley told him. Energy boost!
3. He was a star at Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets count East Lake as one of their home courses (in rotation; wow, tough life). Last 3 times at the Tour Championship: 25th, then 20th, then 10th last year. Can somebody say trending?!
4. Brandt Snedeker won it all last year and entered the week in the #5 spot. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?
5. So, Matt has struggled a bit in hitting fairways (128th on Tour), which is a must at East Lake. Don’t fret. It all comes down to the putter. We’ve left the bent grass of the Midwest, and Matt will take his 18th rank in strokes gained (putting) and 1st in 3-putt avoidance to the quick, Bermuda greens and laugh at those missed fairways while putting himself to a title.
Did I convince you? Well, I don’t know if I convinced myself, but a man sticks with his pick. Here we go, Kuuuch!