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MailTribune.com
  • Kuchar rallies, chips in for RBC Heritage win

  • HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.
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  • HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker.
    "Well," he thought as he walked toward the shot, "there are a lot worse places to be."
    For Kuchar, there was no better place — and no better shot in the tournament.
    He followed with a stunning chip-in on Harbour Town Golf Link's closing, lighthouse hole, to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end.
    Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second place and fifth top-three finish here in the past six years.
    Donald's latest chance ended Kuchar's winning chip. He hit it solid, felt it was a good line and watched it rattle home. "I heard the crowd go crazy," Kuchar said. "Then I went crazy."
    Kuchar punched the air to celebrate, grabbed his cap and swung it around to the cheers of the crowd. It was Kuchar's seventh career PGA Tour victory. He earned $1.044 million and his first trophy since the Memorial last June.
    It also followed a stretch of golf were Kuchar was in contention nearly every week.
    He was two shots behind winner Steven Bowditch at the Texas Open on March 30, then lost a playoff at the Houston Open a week later on Matt Jones' 42-yard chip in.
    Kuchar was in the mix at Augusta National a week ago, having a share of the lead on Sunday before a four-putt double bogey at the fourth hole dropped him from contention.
    Kuchar, at No. 6 in the world the highest-ranked golfer here, could've taken a break like other top competitors, but hoped the momentum would carry into Harbour Town.
    "It's awfully sweet to have another chance," Kuchar said.
    Kuchar made up the four shots on Donald with seven birdies in his first 10 holes. Then nearly gave away another tournament when he three-putted from less than eight feet away at the par-3 17th, a bogey that dropped him into a tie for the top spot — and set up the dramatic 72nd hole.
    "I was in a little bit of shock," Kuchar said. "But I think I did a good job of shaking things off."
    Donald had two holes to catch Kuchar after the chip but couldn't do it. He missed a 28-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, then saw his own try at a chip-in birdie slide past the cup.
    "Finishing second isn't what I was hoping for," he said. "Disappointed, obviously, not to have won. Usually a solid 69 on a windy day with a two-shot lead is enough to get it done on Sundays. It's tough to win out here and hats off to Matt for a superb round."
    Donald was at 10-under 274 after his 69.
    Ben Martin, who turned pro in 2010, shot 67 to finish tied for third at 9 under with John Huh, who shot 68.
    Sunday finally brought the sunshine the tournament had lacked all week. Players got the bonus of easy, softened greens from three days of moisture.
    The birdies were flying from the start, and Kuchar took full advantage. He birdied the first and second holes, then added a third from 20 feet or so at No. 4.
    "When I made that putt, I knew it was going to be a really good day," he said.
    That Donald was in the chase again here was no surprise. The steady Englishman, once No. 1 in the world, says Harbour Town's tight fairways and small greens are a perfect layout for a player such as him who isn't the longest hitter on tour.
    Donald said a gust of wind in his swing led to him driving the ball way left out of bounds on the sixth hole for a double bogey. He climbed back into the hunt with birdies on the seventh and ninth, but hooked his drive into the water left on No. 10 for a bogey.
    "It was just a poor swing," he said. "I flipped it."
    Donald kept charging, though, and drew within a stroke of Kuchar's lead with consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th holes. He could get no closer, finishing his round with six pars.
    European Tour
    At Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Lee Westwood ended a two-year winless drought with a seven-shot victory at the Malaysian Open.
    After a four-hour delay due to the threat of lightning in the middle of the final round, Westwood went on to shoot a 4-under par 68 to complete an 18-under 270 at the Kuala Lumpur Country Club course for his 36th career victory.
    Westwood led from start to finish in the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event that he also won in 1997.
    South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (68), the 2012 champion, along with Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts (70) and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger (67) shared a distant second place at 11 under.
    Champions Tour
    At Duluth, Ga., Miguel Angel Jimenez held off Bernhard Langer to win the Greater Gwinnett Championship, becoming only the third player to lead from start to finish in his Champions Tour debut.
    Jimenez was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters and closed with a 67 to finish two strokes ahead of Langer. Jimenez finished the tournament with 32 consecutive holes without a bogey at TPC Sugarloaf.
    Langer, the defending champion, shot his third-straight 68. Jimenez and Langer were tied at 10 under before a two-shot swing on No. 8. Jimenez needed only a short putt for a birdie, and Langer fell two strokes behind with his bogey.
    Japan LPGA Tour
    At Tokyo, Japanese 15-year-old Minami Katsu became the youngest winner in the history of the Japan LPGA Tour by shooting a 4-under 68 to capture the Vantelin Ladies Open.
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