|Deutsche Bank Championship - August 30, 2010
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Matt Kuchar's fortunes took quite a turn Sunday, and so did his golf ball.
Kuchar beat Martin Laird in a playoff at The Barclays with a 7-iron out of the rough that rolled toward the back of the 18th green, then caught enough of the slope to turn back toward the hole and stop 30 inches away for a birdie.
It was a stunning conclusion to the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Kuchar closed with a 5-under 66, and it didn't look as though it would be enough. Laird had a one-shot lead and needed two putts from just inside 25 feet for the victory, when he ran his putt 7 feet past the hole. He missed the par putt, setting up the playoff.
The timing could not have been better for Kuchar.
His first victory of the year came two weeks after he made his first Ryder Cup team, and the win can only give him a shot of confidence. Kuchar moved to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings by winning the first Playoffs event, giving him a good shot at the $10 million prize. And his third career win is likely to move him to a career-best No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Click here for complete FedEx Cup Standings
The six different winners in the seven-year history of the Deutsche Bank Championship have combined for a total of 162 PGA TOUR wins: Steve Stricker (9), Vijay Singh (34), Phil Mickelson (38), Tiger Woods (71), Olin Browne (3) and Adam Scott (7).
The 2010 Barclays marked the third sudden death in PGA TOUR Playoff history (2008 Barclays – Vijay Singh over Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland; 2008 TOUR Championship – Camilo Villegas over Sergio Garcia). Six of the 13 Playoff events have been decided by one stroke or sudden-death.
The FedExCup points leader and last week’s Barclays champion Matt Kuchar has a TOUR-best 10 top tens in 2010, By comparison, he notched just 10 top 10s in his first 149 professional starts.
The Barclays is one of only three PGA TOUR events in which Tiger Woods has made at least three starts without a victory (Northern Trust Open - 11 starts, The Barclays - 6 starts), Waste Management Phoenix Open - 3 starts).
Five rookies remain in the FedExCup playoffs: Rickie Fowler (22), Rory McIlroy (28), Josh Teater (75), Alex Prugh (95) and Blake Adams (98).
With his Boeing Classic win, Bernhard Langer claimed his fifth official victory in 2010, becoming the first player since Craig Stadler in 2004 to win five times on the Champions Tour in a single season. In 61 career Champions Tour starts, Langer 13 victories and 41 top-10 finishes.
Jeff Sluman, the last Champions Tour player to successfully defend a title, seeks a rare feat when he begins this year’s Home Care & Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Sluman will be trying to win the same event three consecutive years, something that has only happened five other times in Champions Tour history. Here are the details of those five instances:
Player Years Tournament
Chi Chi Rodriguez 1986, 87, 88 Digital Seniors Classic
George Archer 1990, 91, 92 Northville Long Island Classic
Hale Irwin 1996, 97, 98 Senior PGA Championship
Joe Inman 1998, 99, 2000 AT&T Championship
Hale Irwin 2000, 01, 02, 03, 05 Turtle Bay Championship (no event in 2004)
You may want to follow the future of The First Tee junior paired with Dana Quigley this week. Quigley partnered 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion Paul Creamer to a T2 finish in 2004. Scott Langley, the 2010 NCAA medalist who finished T16 at this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was Quigley’s teammate when they won the pro-junior competition in 2006. Incidentally, Quigley’s best individual finish in this event is T11 in 2005.
Tom Watson will celebrate his 61st birthday on Saturday of the Home Care & Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach (September 4).
With his win on Sunday in the Knoxville News Sentinel Open, Chris Kirk (St. Simons Island, GA/U. of Georgia) became the third multiple winner on the Nationwide Tour this year, joining Tommy Gainey (Camden, SC) and Martin Piller (Dallas, TX/Texas A&M).
Chris Kirk is the new No. 1 on the Nationwide Tour money list. With $400,475 in earnings, he moved ahead of an idle Jamie Lovemark (San Diego, CA/USC) by a little more than $7,000.
Arnold Palmer is this week's honorary chairman of the inaugural Mylan Classic presented by CONSOL Energy. Grandson Sam Saunders is playing in the Pittsburgh-area event. PGA TOUR star and western Pennsylvania native Rocco Mediate is also entered, marking his first tournament ever on the Nationwide Tour to go along with 588 PGA TOUR starts.
Keegan Bradley (Woodstock, VT/St. John's U.) likes to go low. On Saturday he shot his third course record of the year (joint or shared), a 63, in the Knoxville News Sentinel Open at Fox Den Country Club. In May he shot 61 in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at Thornblade Club in Greenville, S.C. Two months later he posted another 61 at the Georgian Bay Club in Ontario, Canada during the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. The Nationwide Tour rookie is the nephew of World Golf Hall of Fame member Pat Bradley.
Former PGA TOUR member Gary Woodland (Orlando, FL/University of Kansas) toyed with 59 in last Monday's Knoxville News Sentinel Open open qualifier. He had to settle for 60 (-11) after two-putting for birdie from 20 feet on the final hole at the Links at Kahite. Woodland took advantage of his playing opportunity with a top-25 finish (T16) which earns him a spot in this week's Mylan Classic. He was the halfway leader in Knoxville by two shots.