PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Just before Matt Kuchar stepped over a 3-foot putt to close out his third round at the U.S. Open, a hush that had fallen over the gallery lining the 18th green was suddenly broken.
“You’re a tightwad, Kuchar!” screamed one fan from the grandstand behind the green, a call that was clearly heard by Kuchar and playing competitor Chesson Hadley. It elicited an unsteady groan from the spectators in the immediate vicinity and was followed by a mix of boos and calls of “Kuuch.”
The comment harkened back to Kuchar’s mishandling of a compensation situation with his fill-in caddie at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in the fall, one of multiple controversial moments that have dotted a season in which the 40-year-old has played some of the best golf of his career.
Kuchar seemed to look in the fan’s direction after scooping the ball from the hole, having closed out an even-par 70 that left him at 5 under and six shots behind Gary Woodland.
“Fortunately, as a whole, everybody has been great. Every now and then you get somebody that does that,” Kuchar said. “Nice to hear that guy get jeered afterwards.”
Winless since 2014 entering this season, Kuchar has won twice and added a pair of runner-up finishes while leading the season-long points race. But he’s also had some hiccups, including the caddie situation in Mexico, a tap-in concession that wasn’t against Sergio Garcia in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and an unsuccessful attempt to sway a rules official regarding an embedded ball at the Memorial.
But the mix of great results and controversial headlines isn’t lost on Kuchar, who hopes to tune out any subsequent hecklers during the final round while he tries to chase down Woodland on the course where he logged his lone prior top-10 finish in the U.S. Open (T-6 in 2010).
“I’ve never had any controversy, so it’s been an interesting year up to this point with the bits of controversy I’ve been through,” Kuchar said. “But listen, it’s been such a thrill playing good golf, having a couple of wins. Winning is such a challenge, and to get two this season has been a thrill for me. And being in contention, golf is fun when you’re in contention.”