Matt Kuchar: Pre-Championship Press Conference
BETH MAJOR: Welcome to the 2014 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Here in Pinehurst, North Carolina, here in Pinehurst, North Carolina. We would like to welcome Matt Kuchar to the interview room. He's ranked fifth in the world, he has nine top-10s in 2014, including a victory at the RBC Heritage. 1997 U.S. Amateur champion, you're playing in your 12th U.S. Open, you played also in 1999 and 2005 here. So certainly welcome back to Pinehurst. Can you talk a little bit about the differences, it's obviously a hot topic this week, between '99 and 2005 and the 2014 championship?
MATT KUCHAR: It boils down to, it's very much the same. We know Pinehurst because of the greens. The rest of it is changed, but I think the calling card to Pinehurst No. 2 is the greens. They remain the same. For some reason I had it in my mind that there were massive changes done, rerouting different holes and then its holes are the same, the greens are the same, the difference is there's waste instead of rough. But it's much like I remember. I remember coming in '99 and I remember coming early. I was still in school at Georgia Tech and I remember bringing a college teammate of mine and I played one practice round at that point and I said, I'll take whatever amount of money you want to bet that you cannot break 80. And this was number third player on the Georgia Tech golf team and I said there's no chance you can break 80. I think he put $10 on the time and he ended up paying me at the end of the day. Particularly I think for first timers around course like this, it's just really, really challenging. There's a lot of knowledge that goes into playing this golf course, but the main feature is figuring out the greens, figuring out where to miss. I was here last Monday, and it's interesting, there are a lot of places that seem to me where short side was almost acceptable or almost better than missing with a lot of green to work with. Seemed like short side you were almost pitching up the slope, had some of the upslope to work with, because everything falls off, you were working more up the hill and up the slope. So there's definitely some course knowledge. That doesn't apply everywhere. That's a handful of pins on a handful of greens where that's sort of the course knowledge that you need around here. Particularly the green knowledge that you need around here.
BETH MAJOR: Questions, please?
Q. Every time a Major Championship comes around you hear this conversation of best players in the world that haven't won a Major. Do you find that maybe that conversation motivates you a little bit or is there more pressure to get off the list?
MATT KUCHAR: I think I'm still new to that. I think it's great. If you haven't won a Major, you sure want to be a part of that conversation. I'm happy I'm part of that conversation. But certainly it's a goal of mine, it's a goal of everybody's. It's been a goal of mine since I started playing the game. So it remains there. I treat every tournament as a tournament I want to win. Certainly -- we all certainly put a little more meaning towards these Major championships, but I show up to the Muirfield tournament two weeks ago with all intents to try to win that tournament. I come to U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst with the same intentions I went to at Muirfield.
BETH MAJOR: You're known as very patient player, how much does patience play into playing in the U.S. Open?
MATT KUCHAR: A lot. You're going to get beaten up, you're going to hit shots that you think I thought I would have a shot at making birdie and you walk off the green with a bogey. It happens at U.S. Opens. It's one of the things that good shots aren't always rewarded, good shots are sometimes punished here. Patience certainly helps, because you let things like that get to you and they carry over. You have to accept that good shots aren't always going to be rewarded and that you got to make the most with however it turns out.
Q. These sort of waste areas that are around, people have referred to them by a lot of names, I even heard the guys who redesigned the golf course, that they weren't very specific on what exactly was a bunker and what was a waste area. There was some confusion last night when they were talking about that. How clear are you on what is what around this golf course?
MATT KUCHAR: That's funny, I don't watch a whole lot of Golf Channel but last night I was flipping through and turned on and saw Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore being asked about when they designed it, how did they design it to be played and they really couldn't answer it. They kind of threw it to Mike Davis, thought that he had a good answer for them. But as far as the definition of how they were intended, there wasn't a clear definition by Bill or Ben. Unfortunately, I think it's a nasty thing here and a nasty thing about the game of golf, it's one of the bad things about the game, and I love the game, but the rules are so complicated. Here I am, I play the game for a living, and you could stump me on a hundred different rules situations. It's just a very complicated game, I wish there was an easier way, I wish there was a simpler set of rules, clearer definition of things. I think the nature of the game, it just throws so many complicated issues that it's a complicated rule system. I think it's one of the difficult things about the game of golf and one of the few bad things about the game is how difficult the rules are. As far as the waste areas, I thought they did a nice job at Kiawah, it was very clearly defined. You knew you were in waste. You knew you were in bunkers. I thought they did a nice job at having it clearly defined at Kiawah, what was what. I understand here that the setup is different. There are bunkers within waste bunkers. Those definitions of the bunkers within the waste bunkers sometimes get a little blurry. So I think it's too bad for the game that every group is going to require a walking scorer to tell you, you can ground your club here, you can't ground your club here. That's too bad, but we'll deal with it. We will have walking scorers or walking rules officials, we'll have officials to be able to give that definition. I think it's too bad that it's got to be that way, but you know, we're all here at the U.S. Open and we'll deal with it.
Q. Talked about how the greens are probably the difference maker around here, what is it that makes them so difficult and how comfortable are you after a couple times around here?
MATT KUCHAR: I don't know that you ever get really comfortable. I think particularly as the course continues to firm up and firm up, you have areas where you could feel more comfortable playing from, but you've got to be so precise that even with great course knowledge, even hitting a good shot you're going to end up in places where you're going to have a very difficult time saving par. So, I'm fairly comfortable with my knowledge, I have still two days left to continue to get a feel for the golf course and see how firm it gets and how much that will change things, due to how firm the course gets.
Q. Different questions here, first, your temperament, is it suited to a tournament like this and how quickly do you process and eliminate when you have a bad hole, how quickly can you get rid of that?
MATT KUCHAR: Very quickly. I think that's one of the things that was on display at Hilton Head. I had the 3-putt on the 17th hole, bounced back, holed a bunker shot to win the tournament. It's just been part of my makeup. And not initially as a kid. I started the game at 12 or 13 and I can remember throwing clubs and having a temper, but I think as I matured and kind of became more the person I am, my temperament is much more easygoing and accepting of things that this is the situation, whether it's a life situation or a golf situation, that you deal with it, you make the most of it. So in golf I think that it serves me well and certainly will be in full need this week.
Q. This is looking ahead to Father's Day, and it's kind of a broad question, but the influence of your dad on you, the fact that you're here, playing in this tournament and at this level, how much do you trace back to your father and how much has -- how much did he teach you about being a dad to your kids?
MATT KUCHAR: I think mostly through example. Certainly I have such a new perspective and greater perspective on being a father now as to what my parents actually did for me. I certainly knew they opened up every door possible to give me every opportunity possible. And I was loved and the things that dad and I have done, we have shared some special moments. Looking at him caddieing for me to I know with the U.S. Amateur, playing great in the Masters, and the U.S. Open at Olympic Club, we have done some things that are really cool for fathers and sons to do together. I recall, I think I was eight or 10 years old going to Cooperstown with dad and then some of the things that we have done together as a father and son, those are just cool memories. To share a love and a passion for sports and a love and a passion for the game of golf and now to live out my dream of playing as a professional golfer, getting to compete in the U.S. Open, just to do it once is amazing. To be here now my 12th time, it's really cool. So I've done some great things, dad has been along to see some great things happen, and we have got some great memories together.
Q. Talking about the difference in the design of the course, would you rather play out of that really, really thick rough or would you rather play out of the waste or does it matter to you?
MATT KUCHAR: I think what they have done with the design and the waste area and being able to use 40 percent less water, I think we're going to see this sort of thing happen more and more with golf courses. I think it's a great thing. I think it's great for the game, I think it's great for the environment, I think that the waste area should be this sort of setup more often where you hit it off the fairway, you're in a place where you can find your ball, you can play your ball, but you don't want to be there. I think it's a great setup. I've played in so many of these pro-ams and we get on these tough golf courses where guys can't finish holes because of hazards, whether it's a water hazard, or some sort of feature where the amateur is struggling to finish the hole in six or seven or eight shots, due to penalties, due to lost balls, due to whatever. Here, you can hit it off line and go find it and play it. I think it's a great way for the game to be played. I think it's a great system for golf courses for the environment and I think what they have got here is a really good system.
Q. So given what you've just said, do you think the scores will be a little lower this year because?
MATT KUCHAR: No, no, I expect even par to be very good this year. But one other thing I was thinking, that I love to see, I was just thinking I'm not sure in 2005 what the winning score was. Do you guys know? Is it even par? Michael Campbell won at even par? Thereabouts. But that being said, my point was, Michael Campbell. I think that a U.S. Open should include the last year's champion at that site. I think, how cool would it be for Michael Campbell to be playing this event? I remember thinking it at Olympic Club, I thought Lee Janzen should be here at Olympic Club. I know that you know it's a cycle and that he didn't qualify. I think it should be an exemption and maybe there's some sort of cut off if you're 80 years old, I don't know who won last at Merion but the guy could have been 80 years old and you could say that that doesn't qualify. But I think for the most part, it would make the tournament better. It would be a great story to see Michael Campbell here; to see Lee Janzen play at Olympic Club. I think that would be a great addition to a U.S. Open.
Q. This occurred to me when you were talking about the labyrinthian Rules of Golf, I don't know if you heard about the situation with the young Web.com player who qualified and then he, in five days after he qualified, he turned himself in, he said I grounded my club and he disqualified himself. I don't know if you know that situation, but just generally what does it say about you guys have to be your own referees, even if it's five days after the fact?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, I was not aware of that situation. It's part of the game and one of the amazing things about the game and a testament to the type of people that play the game of golf. It's a sport like no other. I'm always glad to be part of it. I always think that one of those things that I'm glad I chose the sport of golf to play as my profession.
BETH MAJOR: Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate you taking time to join us and we wish you well this week.
MATT KUCHAR: All right. Thank you.
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