Featured Golf News
Kuchar Looking Forward to Pairing with Woodland
The American team at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup will feature players with different skills. Matt Kuchar, a wily veteran of 33, is paired with Gary Woodland, a relative babe in the woods - and one of the game's longest hitters.
Kuchar, whose impressive resume includes a U.S. Amateur title, All-American status at Georgia Tech and, in 2010, PGA Tour Vardon Trophy and Arnold Palmer awards for lowest scoring average and most season earnings, is currently ranked 10th in the world. He has three career victories and was a member of the winning American team in last week's Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Woodland is a 27-year-old from Kansas who wanted to play basketball but changed his sport after he was offered a golf scholarship at Kansas. He was a natural, winning four amateur tournaments before turning pro in 2007. But it wasn't until 2011 that Woodland secured a spot on the PGA Tour after going back and forth between the Nationwide Tour and Q School. A win in the Transitions Championship in March and a total of six top-10 finishes led to a successful 2011 that found Woodland finishing 17th on the money list.
The two find themselves in China vying for the largest prize in Asian golf, $2.5 million, at the biennial World Cup, which starts Thursday on Mission Hills' Hainan Blackstone course, a par-73 layout that stretches 7,777 yards from the tips. Kuchar and Woodland will seek to extend the Americans' domination of the event; they've won, by far, the most World Cup titles - 23 over the years. South Africa is next with five.
But that task won't be easy as there are several of the world's top-ranked players and major champions - including Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel - for their respective teams. On Wednesday, Kuchar and Woodland sat down with reporters and discussed their chances of victory this week. Here's what they had to say.
MODERATOR: This afternoon representing the United States, we have Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar. Both players played abroad last week. Gary, you played in Japan, and Matt obviously played in The Presidents Cup down in Australia, so both of you are somewhat acclimated to the time change and traveling. Maybe some opening comments, you each played nine holes today; a few comments, we'll start with you, Gary.
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, obviously very excited to be here. The golf course is great, it's long. A little room off the tee, which is a good thing for me. Hopefully that helps out, give Matt a little room out there. No, we are excited to be here and hopefully we have a big week.
MATT KUCHAR: After looking at the course, I'm definitely excited to have Gary as a partner. It's a great fit for him. Excited that we are both on the right time zone. It's always a big deal coming over here. I know last week, the guys in The Presidents Cup team, Fred Couples had asked who had come over early to play the Australian Open, try to get acclimated to the courses, to the time; and getting that piece of the puzzle behind us is a good thing and I think this is a great opportunity to be here in part of the World Cup.
Q. The World Cup in previous years really has not had the respect that a World Cup with deserve with arguably the quality of the field from certain countries, not mentioning any in particular. But do you believe that moving the Cup to a biennial event will help the likes of the United States plan for the World Cup and send the top players in the world? And what is the feeling amongst you guys in particular about where the World Cup rates on the radar?
MATT KUCHAR: Well, it has so much history that it rates highly. When you look down the list and see the Jack Nicklauses, the Arnold Palmers as past champions, the list is so distinguished. I had a chance to talk last week with Freddie Couples about it, and a couple of weeks before that with Davis Love. I know they partnered to win maybe six straight times. And when it's an event that means a lot to guys like that, it's hard to have it mean anything but a lot to us. I think that you look at the history, you look at the past champions and how great the past champions were; any time you can put your name on a list like that, or even just attempt to put your name on a list like that, it's a big deal. So I'm certainly excited. I definitely agree that the biennial moving the event to a biennial creates more excitement when it comes around. I think that will definitely help.
Q. A quick comment from you on that same aspect?
GARY WOODLAND: I definitely agree. Especially moving it to the two years, like Matt said, it brings a lot of excitement. I think the field this year shows that. You have great teams from all over the world here. I think it's probably one of the better fields of the last couple of years. We are definitely excited and hopefully we can go out and play well.
Q. Matt, what's your decision of picking Gary as your partner? Because he hits it so long, or is there any reason; have you played on the same team before?
MATT KUCHAR: It certainly helps. I got to play with Gary a number of times this year; we were paired together, and had a good time. When I got the position to play in this event, I was able to pick a partner, and thought about who I would have fun with, and then whose game it to fit well. This was an event I was excited to have an opportunity to play, and looking forward to not only playing, but playing well and having a real chance at winning. So I thought about the guys that I really would enjoy spending the week with, as well as who I thought I could pair up best with in order to really have a shot at winning it, and Gary was at the top of the list.
Q. When you are playing the alternate shot, when Gary is hitting the ball so far so where you're not really used to, will that cause any kind of just, wow, this is crazy and things like that.
MATT KUCHAR: There will be some wow, this is crazy, but more wow, this is great. (Laughter). I think alternate shot may be more fun for me than best ball in that I will actually get to play from Gary's drive, unlike the better ball where I still play my own ball. I think. I'm probably more excited about the alternate shot, just in the fact that I'll get to hit it from where Gary has driven it. So it's going to make for some fun couple days.
Q. Gary, can I ask you we know Matt, you've been playing the world traveling golf; but you've started travelling around and we have seen you a lot in Europe this year. Do you want to become a global player, and do you feel with that in mind it's making you a stronger player, as well?
GARY WOODLAND: Absolutely. I love changing it up. Going over to Europe, the imagination you can have on links golf is great. It's just nice. Golf is becoming more global. It's definitely growing over here. So it's nice to come over here and get acclimated to everything over here. Last week was a great chance for me to go over and play, my first time playing in Japan and to come over here and play in China and play with Matt, it's a great honor.
Q. Matt, sorry if you've been asked this question, because I did come this late, but going from the intensity of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne last week, will it be any different this week playing in a two man event; or is the fact that you are representing the states, is that sufficient to lift your spirits?
MATT KUCHAR: There's still a great deal of excitement playing. This is my first World Cup. I was talking to my wife last week as we were walking the streets on Melbourne Monday after the tournament, talking about what an amazing opportunity to have back to back weeks to represent the United States. Playing in the Presidents Cup was an amazing experience. Any time you can represent your home country is fantastic, and now for me, having this opportunity for two straight weeks is really cool. There's a real excitement. I think there's going to be the team events are fun. This is a smaller version, but it's still a team event. I've got a partner and I've got somebody to rely on, somebody I'm going to try not to let down. So there's still going to be pressure. There's still going to be some fun. I think it's really going to continue the excitement. Gary and I are out here representing the United States and hoping to claim the world title here of the World Cup.
Q. You two both played nine holes today. How do you like the lava rock? There's not much golf, I guess, except in Hawai'i you get this kind of effect.
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I've played Mauna Lani, which is the same setup. The good thing is there's a lot of room out there. The bad thing is that if you hit it in the lava, you obviously hit a pretty poor shot. There's no going back. You're going to have to re tee. It's a good thing and it's good for me because there's a lot of room out there. But unfortunately, you know, obviously you miss it in the lava, that's a pretty big penalty.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.