It’s not often that the sixth ranked golfer in the world and the 2nd player in the FedEx Cup standings can be considered a sleeper at a major championship. That, however, is the case when it comes to Matt Kuchar at the 2013 British Open. Kooch comes in at right around 40 to 1 odds to take home the title. He’s clearly not the favorite but those odds also indicate that it wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of possibility for him to take home the Claret Jug.
Kuchar has had an impressive 2013 season that has included two wins and four more top 10 finishes. His problem, however, is the fact that he has only made two cuts at this championship in his entire career and his best finish came last year when he tied for ninth. He’s entered the Open Championship and has missed the cut on six occasions – including the last time it was played at Muirfield, in 2002.
I’m generally place more emphasis on a player’s recent performances than their career history at a certain event. When looking at Kuchar’s chances from that perspective he’s definitely got a shot to get his name on the first page of the leaderboard this week. How long he stays there is another question entirely. He hasn’t driven the ball well at all this year, coming in at 175th in total driving. He’s only been slightly better at hitting greens in regulation, where he ranks 94th. His magic happens on the greens, though, where he ranks 12th in strokes gained – putting and sixth in scoring average.
This is a tournament that will punish you immeasurably if you can’t find the fairway, however. If Kuchar wants to have any chance at picking up his first major championship, he’s going to have to do much better than hitting 58.15% of fairways like he’s done so far this year. No amount of skill with the putter can overcome those driving stats when you’re at the British Open.