Matt Kuchar won the U.S. PGA Tour’s opening playoff series event, while Tiger Woods remained in contention for a third FedEx Cup golf title in four years.
Kuchar beat Martin Laird yesterday on the first hole of a playoff at the Barclays tournament at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, to lead the standings in the four-event race for the PGA Tour’s $10 million bonus.
It was the third PGA Tour win for Kuchar and first victory of a season in which he had top-10 finishes in 10 of 21 events.
“I knew if I put myself in contention enough times I was going to break through,” Kuchar, 32, said during a news conference. “I’m awfully excited to have it here at the Barclays, the start of our FedEx playoffs. I don’t know if I would put many events much higher on the list.”
While Woods is still winless in 10 PGA Tour events this year, his 12th place tie was enough to qualify him for the Sept. 3-6 Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
Woods shot a 4-under-par 67 during yesterday’s final round to climb into 65th place in the FedEx Cup standings from 112th. The top 100 golfers in the standings advance to the next event.
“This is a week that I was very close,” said Woods, the world’s top-ranked golfer. “I felt that if I would have put it together on the greens for all four days I would have been right there. But (I’m) looking forward to next week.”
Kuchar moves up 13 places to 10th in golf’s Official World Ranking after his win, which also earned him $1.35 million.
Kuchar shot a 5-under 66 during the final round and made the playoff when Laird had a three-putt bogey on the last hole.
After taking 22 putts over the previous 17 holes, Scotland’s Laird raced his 30-foot birdie attempt seven feet past the cup on the 18th green. With a chance to secure his second PGA Tour win, Laird pushed his par putt wide and the bogey dropped him into a tie with Kuchar at 12-under.
Both players returned to the tee at Ridgewood’s par-4 18th hole and hit drives into the rough to start the playoff.
Kuchar’s 7-iron approach shot then caught the back fringe of the green and curled back to within three feet of the flag to set up the American’s winning birdie putt and elicit cheers of “Kuuuch” from the gallery.
“It’s going to make it a great year and a great reward going into the Tour Championship,” Kuchar said.
After the Deutsche Bank Championship, the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings head to the BMW Championship in Chicago. The top 30 then compete in the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta to decide the $10 million bonus.