It’s a title that players want to avoid like the plague. Phil Mickelson heard it for years before his breakthrough at the 2004 Masters Tournament. It’s both a compliment and a slight, and one that gets tougher and tougher to shake as years go by.
“The best player never to win a major.”
Now, to suggest that Matt Kuchar is in that category might be a bit premature, but at this point in his career, there’s going to be some talk about it. Although Kuchar won his first PGA Tour title in 2002 at the Honda Classic, it wasn’t until 2009 that he really redefined himself, having lost his Tour card in 2005 and 2006. Since then, he’s been the epitome of consistency, earning no fewer than eight top-ten finishes since 2010, and becoming one of just four players (alongside Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, and Henrik Stenson) to win multiple titles in 2013.
Of course, that just means that expectations are at an all-time high for Kuchar at the Masters. He’s had chances to win each of the last two weeks, but less-than-stellar Sunday showings allowed Matt Jones and Steven Bowditch to take the championships that could have been his. There are many who think that his inability to close is a weakness in his game, but in this elite field, I believe that Kuchar knows he can’t afford to let any opportunities slip away.
I have to think that Kuchar’s got the type of game that can win multiple majors in his career, and he’s been relatively injury-free for years. There’s no reason to think he has anything less than another ten good years of golf ahead of him. But what matters is right here, right now at Augusta National. There would be no better way to quiet the doubters and prove he’s a closer than to finally wear the green jacket at week’s end.