Kuchar settles for $3 million consolation prize
ATLANTA (AP) Matt Kuchar struggled at East Lake.
A $3 million consolation prize should make him feel better.
Kuchar came into the Tour Championship as the top seed, knowing he was assured of claiming the FedEx Cup and a $10 million prize if he won the season-ending event.
He was never a factor, however, tying for 25th in a 30-player field after failing to break par in any round.
"I didn't have it this week, but I played as well as I could for 72 holes," said Kuchar, who closed with a 1-over 71 Sunday for a 5-over 285 total.
Jim Furyk won the tournament to claim the richest payoff in golf. Because no one else in the top five finished high enough, Kuchar held on for second in the point standings to take the runner-up prize of $3 million.
Not that he had any idea what was going on, given the complex nature of the points system.
"It's impossible to be aware of it," Kuchar said. "Who really was aware of it? Maybe some kid in front of a computer. But certainly I was not."
Kuchar was preparing to tee off at the final hole when thunderstorms swept into the area, leading to a two-hour break. Even then, he didn't bother looking at the possible FedEx Cup scenarios.
"I watched football," he said. "I had no real idea and was completely unconcerned with it today. It was not even on my radar screen. I was out there trying to hit good shots and really didn't give the FedEx Cup one ounce of thought today."
Kuchar conceded that he's a little beat after playing his fourth playoff event in five weeks, but there's no rest on the horizon.
He was off to the airport, heading to Wales to play in his first Ryder Cup, and he's scheduled return to Georgia to play in the inaugural fall event at Sea Island the following week.
"I could use a couple down days, but I don't get a couple of down days for a couple weeks," Kuchar said. "I understood that. I've played a lot since the British Open, and I knew it was on my plate."
WATNEY'S CHARGE: Nick Watney shot a 58 - over two days.
Watney put up a 28 on the back nine Saturday for a 7-under 63, then kept it going with a 30 on the front side Sunday - capped by a chip-in eagle at No. 9. Actually, he was an astonishing 14 under for a 20-hole stretch, going back to third-round birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.
Just when Watney seemed poised to make an unprecedented run from 28th place to claim the $10 million FedEx Cup, rain and lightning caused a two-hour delay. That seemed to sap Watney's momentum, and he played the final nine holes at 2 over for a closing 67.
"It was the same for everyone, so no complaints," Watney said. "I definitely lost a bit of my mojo there sitting in the clubhouse. I definitely would've liked to finish it off there. All in all, from where I was through seven holes (Saturday), I'll take the finish."
Watney kept believing he could win the big prize until right at the end.
"With a good round, you never know," he said. "It's a very difficult golf course. You can make up ground in a hurry, and it's tough to play with the lead. I thought I had an outside chance, but I would've had to shoot something around the same score as I did" in the third round.
NA'S OUTBURST: Kevin Na let his temper get the best of him as he struggled to the finish.
Coming off a double bogey at the 17th hole, Na yanked his tee shot at No. 18 toward the grandstand left of the flag. That caused him to unleash another swing, this one in anger, that took out a huge chunk of grass in the tee box.
Na was able to take a drop, but he still wound up with a bogey for a 6-over 76, hardly the way he wanted to close after three straight rounds in the 60s.
Even though it was easy to understand Na's frustration, his outburst drew a scolding from playing partner Paul Casey.
"He was visibly upset, wasn't he?" Casey said. "The behavior on 18 was not good. It's not good for the game."
DONALD'S LAMENT: Luke Donald couldn't help but think back to Saturday after coming up one stroke shy of having a shot at $10 million.
During the third round, Donald took a double-bogey 7 at No. 15 - the easiest hole of the week at East Lake. It cost him big time when he wound up one stroke behind winner Jim Furyk.
"You can always look back to yesterday maybe, the double-bogey made on 15," Donald said. "That was obviously disappointing, kind of got me out of the lead."
And how did Donald make 7 on such an easy hole? An errant drive into the rough forced him to lay up in the middle of the fairway, then he pushed his third shot into a bunker alongside the green.
Donald blasted out of the sand to about 18 feet, then three-putted.
FURYK'S RECOMMENDATION: Jim Furyk made his $10 million putt with a used club he bought for $39.
After knocking in a little 2 1/2-footer to clinch the Tour Championship, Furyk gave a plug to Joe & Leigh's Discount Golf Pro Shop in South Easton, Mass.
Furyk has been using a heel-shafted putter he bought at the shop after the third round of the playoff event at TPC Boston. He put it in the bag for the final round of that tournament, and it's been with him ever since.
"I guess we were meant to be," Furyk said.
The putter retailed for $65, but he got it at a discount because it was used. There's a nick here and a ding there, but nothing he can't live with.
"I didn't think it was all that pretty, to be honest with you," Furyk said, "but it's getting a lot better looking every day."
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods didn't qualify for East Lake, but he held on to his ranking as the world's No. 1 player. Phil Mickelson, who needed to finish at least in a three-way tie for second to overtake Woods, struggled to a 74 that left him tied for 22nd. ... The FedEx Cup has been settled, but the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average is still up for grabs. Matt Kuchar leads at 69.57, but he's scheduled to play at least one of the fall events. Steve Stricker, who's done of the year, is right on Kuchar's heels at 69.58 and could possibly steal away the trophy from the sideline.