Kuchar steals march on rivals in tough conditions
With the conditions seemingly getting tougher by the minute, Matt Kuchar allowed himself a smile at his Open championship rivals’ expense after completing a morning round of 71 at Royal Birkdale on Friday.
It’s true to say that a smile rarely leaves the 39-year-old American’s face, but in this instance it was tinged with a little mischief. For though his score was six strokes more than his exemplary bogey-free first round, he knew that by the end of the day few, if any, would be challenging him at the top of the leaderboard.
Kuchar began the day as joint leader with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka on five under par. But after dropping just one stroke, he found himself back in the clubhouse on four under par and enjoying a spot of lunch before his countrymen had even set foot on the first tee.
“Once you've done it and get to watch, it’s kind of icing on the cake,” he said. “I've had a couple situations where it has been flip-flopped. I've sat out some morning matches in the Ryder Cup, watched it on TV (and thought), ‘Holy cow, I'm going to go do that this afternoon.’
“I don't know that the guys that watched this morning get to think, ‘Holy cow, this is going to be great. I get to go out and do this this afternoon.’ So in my situation, having been out there and posted a nice round, (the fact) that I now get to watch is fun.”
Kuchar had four bogeys and three birdies in his round and explained that the course played completely different from the first day. “It was nearly an opposite wind of what we had yesterday,” he explained. “It felt like every hole was a crosswind hole and you had to play for so much curve on the ball.”
On some of the holes, the par three 12th for instance, he aimed 30 yards left of the green and brought the ball back on the wind, finishing in the middle of the green.
“What people enjoy about The Open is watching the hard wind, the rain, and the guys just trying to survive out there,” he added. “Today is my day. I get to kick back in the afternoon and watch the guys just try to survive. It’s pretty much all you can do.”