Golf

Watson and Kuchar close friends on and off the course despite UGA and Tech rivalry

Bubba Watson, left, talks to Matt Kuchar as they walk down the second fairway during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in this 2013 file photo.
Bubba Watson, left, talks to Matt Kuchar as they walk down the second fairway during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in this 2013 file photo. AP

The Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are bitter rivals in the state of Georgia. Their rivalry is appropriately called Clean, Old Fashioned-Hate.

Bubba Watson, a former University of Georgia golfer and Matt Kuchar a former Tech golfer don’t let that rivalry impact their relationship at all.

“We’re good friends,” Kuchar said. “There’s certainly a rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech, but there’s also a friendship and camaraderie amongst the players out here.”

They’ve played alongside one another on multiple occasions and been teammates on the American Ryder Cup team.

While they may not be playing together on Sunday, each still has a shot at winning the green jacket.

Kuchar sits at -8 after shooting a -4 round on Saturday and only five back of the leader, Francisco Molinari.

“I was awfully pleased to be able to turn the thing around and run off four straight birdies, that was a big boost for me,” Kuchar said. “Just to keep me within kind of shouting distance of the leaders.”

He will be in one of the last groups to go off early on Sunday as potential inclement weather forced them to move the start time up and pair golfers in threesomes.

“I’m excited to be a guy that tees off one of the last couple of groups and has a chance to be in contention,” Kuchar said. “Golf gets so exciting when you’ve got a chance to contend for a tournament title, a major championship and particularly the Masters Tournament.”

Watson knows a thing or two about that as he has won a pair of green jackets at Augusta National in 2012 and 2014. He finished up his third round at -5 for the round and the tournament. He was able to flip the switch Saturday after not being able to string together anything the first two rounds.

“You put pressure on yourself the first couple days because you want it so bad,” Watson said. “We know, anybody that’s won here, anybody that’s won a golf tournament knows what it feels like to win and so you want it so bad.”

Leader Francisco Molinari is currently sitting at -13 for the tournament, Watson finished the round when the lead was at -9. He was certainly hoping that it could stay in that range but with the potential inclement weather coming, he says anything can happen.

“Yeah, the mind set is just, tomorrow’s going to be a tough day, so that’s the beauty of it is that a lot of people are going to have a shot,” Watson said. “So my goal is just to come out here and just try to do the same thing and then dictate shots off of weather conditions, but hopefully another 5‑under or something even better to have a shot at it.”

Kuchar and Watson will both be looking for some bragging rights come Sunday but have had a chance to see each other quite a bit thanks to their unique housing arrangement.

“Bubba and I were neighbors this week, we are renting a motor home,” Kuchar said. “So we’re seeing a lot of him.”

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