News and Notes from Pro Golf Tours and Tournaments
Matt Kuchar returns to the scene of the crime, Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, SC, where he stole Luke Donald's shot at winning the RBC Heritage and robbed the crowd of free golf in last year's tournament.
Needing to get up and down out of a bunker on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Donald, Kuchar instead holed out to cap a final round 7-under 64 and win the tournament by one stroke over Donald. Kuchar isn't making any apologies as he defends his title at a place that has been on his to-do list for some time.
“It's been a course that I've enjoyed since day one,” said Kuchar, sporting his prized Tartan Jacket at Wednesday's pre-tournament press conference. “It rated extremely high on the tournaments that I wanted to put my name on their list of champions. I had a couple nice showings, and last year to come through and win it on Sunday was just such a thrill.”
Kuchar will hit the ceremonial tee shot into Calibogue Sound to the traditional cannon blast on Thursday. The RBC Heritage is known as a laid-back tournament where players and their families can unwind after a pressure-filled week at the Masters. But this year's field features several big names, including newly crowned Masters champion Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Ian Poulter.
IKE-ONIC TREE: The iconic Eisenhower Tree that once stood on the 17th fairway at Augusta National Golf Club is branching out. The old loblolly pine stood about 65 feet tall when it was badly damaged by a 2014 ice storm in 2014 and had to be removed.
The act of Mother Nature accomplished something President Dwight D. Eisenhower couldn't during his days as a club member – cut down that pesky tree. Ike lobbied to have the tree removed after it interfered with his tee shot so many times. Then-Chairman Clifford Roberts ruled Eisenhower out of order for making the motion, and the tree was later officially named in his honor.
But there is a happy ending to the tree's downfall. A surviving cross section of the tree will be transported to the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, Kansas, where it will be placed on permanent public display.
AIR JORDAN: Jordan Spieth's record-setting victory at the Masters had repercussions beyond the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
The 21-year-old Spieth made a giant leap onto the golf stage with his wire-to-wire win, taking over the lead in the FedEx Cup standings and climbing to second in the World Golf Rankings behind Rory McIlroy.
The 21-year-old left the Masters with a number of records tucked in the pocket of his Green Jacket, including becoming the first to reach 19-under in the Masters and the only golfer to make 28 birdies in the tournament.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain racked up a couple of records and some serious frequent flyer miles last year at the Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga.,
Jimenez became the first player to win an event on the European (Hong Kong Open) and Champions Tour in the same season. He looks to defend his crown when the three-day tournament tees off Friday.
LPGA TOUR: Michelle Wie hopes for another happy homecoming when the native of Honolulu opens her title defense at the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii.
Wie thrilled home fans by capturing her third LPGA Tour victory, and her first on US soil. She came from four strokes back in the final round to win by two shots over Angela Stanford. The former childhood star has come a long way with her mental and physical game and is a favorite to win the tournament.