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Kuchar Pays Little Weight to Ranking at The Lakes

American Matt Kuchar is making his first appearance at the Australian Open since 2011. (Photo: Henry Peters)
Matt Kuchar is the leading world ranked player in the field at this week’s Emirates Australian Open but the tour-hardened veteran with 8 PGA Tour titles and 11 top ten major championship finishes knows his ranking counts for very little in the hurly burly of tournament golf.

Kuchar, who arrived into Sydney off the back of his most recent PGA Tour title in Mexico last week, took little comfort from his ranking and even less from the expectations it creates.

“I think you guys all know that that you always look to play your best. Certainly, there are more expectations, but when you've been around long enough, I think you kind of understand there's good and bad that go with the game. 

“It's hard to be good every week. Certainly the form I'm in I expect to keep going well, but I also know that like everybody else, you could wake up tomorrow and go, 'what just happened?'

“I think I understand the ups and downs and the cycle of the game of golf pretty well and certainly hope to play well, expect to play well, but don't feel any extra pressure to play well.

"I'm certainly on a big high, winning definitely provides an amazing high. Like I said, I know the ups and downs, I would love to say that I'm going to continue that form. I plan on it, but I also know it's no guarantee, either."

The 40-year-old is still floating on a high following his win at the Mayakoba Classic last week, his first in more than four years on the PGA Tour.

“It was amazing for me to get in the winner's circle again. It had been four‑plus years. There are times that you think ‘will I ever do it again’ and it maybe is extra sweet when you're able to kind of accomplish one of those goals that you're not sure you'll make again. 

“And so winning on the PGA Tour, it's an amazing feeling, and then to be able to do it with my wife and kids in attendance was really sweet.”

Kuchar returns to a golf course where he missed the cut in his last appearance in 2011 ahead of playing for the USA at the Presidents Cup the following week but plans to rekindle a more positive relationship with The Lakes ahead of tomorrow’s first round.

“2011 is a long time to go back. But excited to go out and see the golf course this afternoon, try to re-learn it the best I can before tomorrow's opening round.

Kuchar’s record in majors is one of the best of the active PGA Tour players with his near miss behind Jordan Spieth at the 2017 Open Championship the closest he's come to breaking through.

He was asked if the possibility of a first major is a source of motivation for him.

“Absolutely, absolutely, but I feel like the process I've chosen, the road I've chosen to attack the majors is to try to treat every event as if it's a major.  I try to ‑ there's not a tournament that I enter that I don't want to put my name on that list of champions. 

“Certainly, I understand majors are different. I understand that's what we're judged by. I know there's a bigger gravity when it comes to major championship golf. But I feel like playing great golf breeds playing more great golf and the more chances you have at winning, the more comfortable you get in those final round, final group situations.

“If it happens to be your time in a major and you have that opportunity, hopefully you've had enough experience to come through. So I try to treat every event as if it's one I really want to win, majors included.”

Kuchar’s win last week could not have come at a better time for Australian Open organisers as they look to capitalise on and benefit from the international feel that players such as Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele, Anirban Lahiri and Byeong-Hun An bring to the event.

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