AP News

Matt Kuchar struggles with belly putter in loss to Hunter Mahan

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Matt Kuchar lost to Hunter Mahan, 6 and 5.

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) - Even after the worst loss ever in the Match Play Championship quarterfinals, Matt Kuchar found time for some humor.

He struggled Saturday with his belly putter, losing 6 and 5 to Hunter Mahan. Approached behind the 13th green for an interview, Kuchar looked into the camera and, smiling broadly, said: ``I'd feel better if I could punch Faldo flat on the back of the neck.'' As the interview ended, Kuchar leaned toward the camera, and said: ``Sorry Nick.''

Nick Faldo, the six-time major champion and television analyst, was critical of putters that are anchored to the body during a roundtable discussion Friday night on Golf Channel. Faldo wasn't working the tournament telecast Saturday.

``It's called a golf swing, not a golf anchor,'' Faldo said Friday night on Golf Channel's ``State of the Game'' show. ``If the amateurs, for the enjoyment of the game, let them do whatever they like. But for professionals, I think we should start looking at all our rules, or quite a few on the equipment.''

After the interview, still grinning, Kuchar said his putting woes were reason not to ban the belly putter. ``I probably made a case to not outlaw it,'' he said.

If there were any questions that Kuchar was serious about punching Faldo, he put that to rest in a later interview.

``I think I have a chilly sense of humor,'' Kuchar said. ``It was meant to be funny. Nick's a big boy. I don't want any piece of him. I think I thought it might be funny. It was funny in my mind. I don't know if it was funny in anybody else's mind.''

Kuchar missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 2, and lost four of the next five holes with bogeys to take himself out of the match.

``My putter let me down,'' he said. ``It was just very uncharacteristic. I think it really came down to putting. I think if I had putted well, I was in the match.''

MEDINAH BOUND: Mark Wilson has five PGA Tour victories, three in the last 14 months, and has a spot in the Match Play semifinals.

Still, the Chicago-area resident is a bit concerned about being recognized when he finally lines up a tee time at Medinah in preparation for the Ryder Cup in September.

``I'm sure they'd let me on if I called,'' Wilson said Saturday after beating Peter Hanson 4 and 3 in the quarterfinals at Dove Mountain. ``I don't know if they've heard of me, though, either. No one's heard of me. When I call up, I can't just say my name like I'm sure Phil and Tiger can. I add on `I'm Mark Wilson, a PGA player.' Maybe they'll be looking up on the computer when I'm on the phone to see if it's legit.''

Wilson has never played the historic club south of Chicago.

``I'm going to change that, I think, when the snow thaws,'' Wilson said. ``We did have some snow yesterday. I definitely plan to get out there. I've walked around it a few times on the U.S. Opens and stuff like that when I was a kid.

``I don't play much golf when I'm home. I play Butler National or Cog Hill. If you see me playing more than one round of golf a week when I'm home, it's a mistake. It's easier to go over to Butler versus make a phone call and figure something out. I like to be simple. I'm trying to make life simple.''

Wilson will face Hunter Mahan on Sunday morning.

DOUBLE DUTY: The semifinal matches will be played Sunday morning, followed by the 18-hole championship and third-place matches in the afternoon.

Lee Westwood, set to face Rory McIlory in the semifinals, bristled at the suggestion that it would be draining to play two rounds in a day.

``I invest a lot of energy, but you can see what a physically fine-tuned specimen I am now,'' Westwood said. ``I think I'd like to think I'm quite capable of playing two more rounds of golf, hopefully.''

And how about mentally?

``Mentally, yeah, I'm mental,'' Westwood quipped. ``I can never quite figure that mentally drained one out. Why would you get mentally drained when you get into positions that you work for and practice hard for? You should be in those positions enjoying yourself.''

DIVOTS: Mark Wilson has yet to play the 17th or 18th holes. Tiger Woods (2003) and Luke Donald (2011) are the only players to win the event without playing the final hole. ... Hunter Mahan has only played 62 holes in four rounds, beating Zach Johnson in 19 holes, Y.E. Yang and Steve Stricker in 15, and Matt Kuchar in 13. ... Rory McIlory is in position to take the No. 1 spot in the world ranking with a victory in the championship match, and also would become the youngest Match Play and World Golf Championship event winner. He will be 22 years, 9 months, 22 days on Sunday. Tiger Woods holds both age records. He set the WGC mark in the 1999 Bridgestone Invitational at 23 years, 7 months, 30 days, and won his first Match Play title in 2003 at 27 years, 2 months, 2 days. ... The champion will receive $1.4 million, second-place is worth $850,000, third $600,000, and fourth $490,000. The quarterfinal losers got $270,000.

More From the Web