HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Matt Kuchar wasn’t smiling much Sunday night after his near miss at the Masters Tournament last week.
The world’s 14th-ranked golfer had hoped a night in his own bed would prepare him for this week’s RBC Heritage. Instead, Kuchar replayed the most critical shots of the round as he tied for the lead with three holes left, then gave it away with a bogey on the par-3 16th.
Kuchar, who gained his nice-guy reputation with his megawatt smile as a college golfer at Augusta National 14 years ago, finished in a tie for third behind Masters champion Bubba Watson.
“It was just not an easy night’s sleep,” Kuchar said.
Kuchar woke up refreshed and ready for the next challenge which starts today at Harbour Town Golf Links. Kuchar says he’s learned not to spend much time looking back.
“It’s not real helpful to look at Monday morning’s paper and say, ‘What if I played just one shot better or two shots better,’” he said.
Kuchar and world No. 1 Luke Donald are among four of the top-20 ranked golfers teeing off at the rechristened RBC Heritage, which is on solid financial footing after two years of uncertainty. Watson, along with most of the other Masters field, is taking the week off.
Not Kuchar, who says he’s just as excited about Harbour Town as he was for Augusta.
“I want to win this tournament,” he said. “And the more I can make every tournament really important, I think it makes prep for the majors much easier.”
Donald hopes to improve his showing at Harbour Town. He was third in 2010, then lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff last year when a win would’ve elevated him to No. 1. Donald subsequently reached that spot and, with No. 2 Rory McIlroy, No. 3 Lee Westwood and No. 4 Watson all off, is fairly secure on top, win or lose this week.
Webb Simpson (No. 13) and Bill Haas (No. 18) are the other golfers in this week’s field.
Kuchar, Donald and the rest almost didn’t have a tournament to come to before RBC and The Boeing Co. joined forces to back the event the next five years. Boeing is the RBC Heritage’s presenting sponsor.
“There’s a whole new excitement for the tournament,” Snedeker said.