AUGUSTA -- Matt Kuchar’s first appearance in the Masters was a memorable one.
He was still a student at Georgia Tech and was a fresh-faced amateur with a huge smile on his face throughout the week.
He finished 21st and enjoyed every minute of that week in April in 1998. That was the highlight of his experiences at Augusta National Golf Club until last year.
Kuchar, in his seventh appearance in the tournament, was in the hunt throughout the week and finished third.
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“I’m not sure how much experience or course knowledge helps,” Kuchar said. “I feel like the idea about course knowledge only helps if you hit it where you want to hit it.
“If you’re in full control where you are hitting the ball, then course knowledge helps. But if you’re not, you kind of throw that out the window.
“So last year, it just gives me confidence knowing that I can contend in major championships, that I can be there late on Sunday. It was my first real chance to win a major coming down the stretch late on Sunday. I had been there, kind of early on in the week but never so late.
“So it just feels like to me, one of those steppingstones into continuing to contend and winning majors, just having that experience that I’ve been there. The more times you’re there, the more comfortable you get with it.”
Last year marked Kuchar’s first top-20 finish in the tournament as Bubba Watson earned his first major championship. Watson and Kuchar were the only two players to break par in all four rounds.
Kuchar started this year with a pair of top-10 finishes in Hawaii. He earned his first win of the year at the
WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.
“I’d like to have a year with multiple wins,” Kuchar said. “I think the more comfortable you get winning tournaments I’ve now got five wins, and I’d like to continue that going. But majors are certainly on my radar. I think all of us try to peak for major championships.
“Everybody wants to get their game in the best shape possible for majors. I always felt like it was hard to turn things off and on. I would like to kind of be on with regularity and play well week-in and week out, and I felt like that was the best preparation and just continue playing well and let that carry into major championships and just keep the good play going.
“So I’ve been pleased at kind of the trajectory of my career the last couple years. I hope that a week like this in major championships that you kind of get the breaks, and the putts go in that week. I’m contending more in majors, and hopefully I’ll be getting my chance to win a couple.”