HONOLULU (Swing Update) – Matt Kuchar did not have the start he wanted Sunday at the Sony Open, not with three bogeys on five holes after only one lap out of three.
The finish was better than it could have imagined.
Kuchar regained control at the end of the heat with back-to-back putts, the second in No. 16 provoking a rare manifestation of emotion with a hand pump. And when he caught a birdie and a four-shot victory over Andrew Putnam, he looked across the sky at a rainbow that stretched across the sky.
"It was so cool to have a rainbow on the 18th hole," said Kuchar.
Even better? Davis Love III, who still holds the best rainbow moment of the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, was there to greet him.
Kuchar overcame his sloppy start with a flawless golf until the end of the race – he put the bird control on the last 13 holes – and leapt with a three-hole critical course to Waialae for a score from 4 to 66, to become the first multiple winner of the PGA Tour this season.
He won the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico two months ago, another finish tighter than it needed to be.
Not bad for a 40-year-old who finished last season without getting to the Tour Championship for the first time since 2009, and ended his series of games with eight consecutive Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
"I was pretty frustrated," Kuchar said. "I think the frustrating thing was that I felt I was doing good things and I just did not see results. It is sometimes difficult to take when you think you are on the right track and on the right track and that you do not see any results. It's nice to see him turn around.
It was not as easy as a four-shot win could indicate.
Fleeing for the first time this weekend, Kuchar was about to make two shots on the turn when Putnam hit a 30-yard bunker shot about ten inches from the cup. Kuchar went out weakly and managed to place the 10-foot birdie on the ninth of the normal-5 to stay within range. He grabbed Putnam on the next hole with an aggressive slope and a climb up the slope. After trading birdies, they were tied with five holes to play.
Putnam made his only mistake with a 9 iron in a deep bunker to the left of the 14th green, leading to bogey. Kuchar followed with 12-foot shots on the next two holes and was on the verge of winning his ninth career victory.
"I feel a little disappointed right now," said Putnam after closing with a 68. "I'm sure when I think about it … it's gone a lot of good things." Kuch was playing birds and playing well down the course, I just could not follow him. "
Putnam, who won the Barracuda championship last summer and was a finalist for Dustin Johnson at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, is in the top 50 in the world for the first time in his career at 45th.
This is only the second time Kuchar has won twice in the same season. He won the Match Play Championship and Memorial in 2013.
Now he has the meat of the season in front of him.
"I want to see how great this year can be," said Kuchar.
He finished at 22 minus 258, the third lowest total in Waialae's history behind the PGA Tour record of 253 scored by Justin Thomas in 2017 and Jimmy Walker's 257 record of 257 after his victory in 2015.
Canada's Corey Conners, who qualified on the field on Monday, played a 64-64 weekend and was tied for third place for the third place, though none has a serious chance to compete in a two-player race at the top. .
Still, the performance was excellent for Conner, who barely missed a full PGA tour card last year. In addition to last season's Sanderson Farms finalist, he has almost as many FedEx Cup points as last year when he finished 130th.
Marc Leishman (64), Hudson Swafford (64) and Chez Reavie (67) also tied for third.
Love, who played for the first time at the Sony Open in 1986, missed a shot at the lowest score of 72 holes in his career. His weekend of 64 to 65 gave him a tie for seventh place, and he is now heading to Singapore in the hope of winning a spot at the British Open.
Kuchar had been away for more than four years since winning the PGA Tour before winning in Mexico. He's a winner again, and for a guy who loves Hawaii, he was delighted to already have a place reserved for Kapalua for the winners squad in 50 weeks.
"Winning two out of three is crazy to understand," he said.