Matt Kuchar will attempt to bounce back from his Open Championship heartache by claiming his first PGA Tour title since 2014 in the RBC Canadian Open.
Kuchar went into the final round at Royal Birkdale three shots behind playing partner Jordan Spieth, but found himself one ahead with five holes to play after Spieth’s fifth bogey of the day on the 13th.
However, despite playing the next four holes in two under par, Kuchar arrived on the 18th tee two shots behind after an inspired Spieth went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on the same stretch.
A closing bogey meant Kuchar eventually finished where he started, three behind Spieth and admitting it was a “crushing” blow to come so close to a first major championship.
“To be this close, to taste it with five holes to go, it’s a hard one to sit back and take,” said Kuchar, whose previous best major finish was a tie for third in the 2012 Masters.
Kuchar will at least have happy memories of the Canadian Open and this week’s venue of Glen Abbey Golf Course, where he was second in 2013, seventh in 2015 and ninth last year.
And course designer Jack Nicklaus was on hand to offer words of advice and condolence when Kuchar – whose last PGA Tour win came the week after he was fifth in the 2014 Masters – arrived on Tuesday.
“We talked about how I thought he played an awfully good tournament, did awfully well, and just he ran into a buzzsaw on the last few holes,” 18-time major winner Nicklaus said.
“That’s what it amounted to. He lost by three shots as it turned out and Jordan holed putts on 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. If he misses three of them, it’s a tie. If he misses four of them, Matt wins.”
World number one Dustin Johnson has also made the trip from Southport to Ontario after following a third round of 64 in the Open with a closing 77, while defending champion Jhonattan Vegas has missed his last five cuts in succession.
“I’ve had a horrible summer to put it the best way,” Vegas said. “But it’s always fun coming back to places where you’ve had great results, especially wins, so definitely it’s a good refresher from the past couple of months that have been a bit of a struggle.
“But it’s golf and you have to keep a positive mentality and always think that you’re going to play your best.”