It's Kuchar's to lose

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

It's tough to imagine Matt Kuchar's grin being any bigger, but he may have 10-million more reasons to smile come Sunday.

The FedEx Cup points and PGA Tour money leader can clinch the playoff title and its $10-million US prize with a victory at The Tour Championship and it seems he has the winning attitude and game to get it done.

Kuchar has one victory this season (at the first playoff event, The Barclays), but has stacked up 11 top-10 finishes and 18 top-25s. Talk about consistency.

So what does a guy with the biggest opportunity thus far in his career do with his week off before the big event?

How about the not-so-stressful life event that is moving.

Kuchar and his wife Sybi, whom he met at Georgia Tech, packed up the family home in Atlanta last week and are moving to St. Simons Island to be closer to family.

"It's not quite the week off I was looking for," Kuchar said in a news conference Wednesday. "But it could have been a good thing."

It likely was as close to a good thing as moving can be. Kuchar admitted he didn't have time to dwell on the daunting task of winning the FedEx Cup and, likely, securing his spot as the PGA Tour's player of the year.

Not to mention the pressure that comes with trying to do it in front of fans that will be pulling for the Yellow Jackets star and former U.S. amateur champion.

"It's great to have sup-port," Kuchar said when asked what it is like coming into the tournament at East Lake as a favourite.

"Being a local kid, there may be a few more (supporters). "It feels kind of like a home game. In golf, you don't get too many home games."

He's not the most flashy player in the game, but seeing Kuchar come out on top would be a feel-good story.

He lost his PGA Tour playing privileges in 2006 and since then has fought back from being well into the 200s in the Official World Golf Ranking. He credits swing coach Chris O'Connell's "one-plane" swing for getting his game back in order.

"Every year has been better and better," Kuchar said. "... (O'Connell) has turned me into the player I want to be."

So what is the player that Kuchar wants to be?

"Every week you'd see Tiger Woods up there ... Now you see guys like Steve Sticker up there every week. That's the type of guy I want to be."

When asked about his choice to move from the amateur ranks to take a shot at professional golf, Kuchar said he wanted to be the guy on TV, getting it done.

"I wanted to be Boris Becker when I was a kid," said the accomplished tennis player, one half of the USTA husband and wife doubles championship team in 2009.

"I wanted to be Magic Johnson when I was a kid. In golf, I wanted to be Phil Mickelson."

Kuchar is one victory away from being that guy.

NO NO. 1

What a difference a year makes.

In last season's Tour Championship, Mickelson edged out Tiger Woods to win at East Lake, but the world's No. 1 player was able to hold on for the FedEx Cup victory and its huge prize.

This year, Woods, still ranked No. 1, but barely, didn't qualify and Mickelson can win, but is a longshot for the FedEx title.

Whether Woods' absence is an indictment of the FedEx Cup playoffs or of the Official World Golf Ranking is open for debate.

IT'S ALL IN THE CARDS

Jon Mills has an interesting take on the cutthroat world of the Nationwide Tour, the proving ground and stepping stone to the PGA Tour.

While the tour itself shines a huge spotlight on the race to be inside the top-25 (it has dubbed it "The 25" and has a logo for it), Mills points out PGA cards are weighted depending on where the player finishes.

That is why Mills, who currently sits in 32nd spot on that list, isn't overly worried if he doesn't manage to crawl up to 25th or better. Players outside the top-10 may still consider PGA Tour qualifying school to try to improve on their playing privileges for next season.

"If you are 25th, it doesn't get you many tournaments on the PGA Tour," Mills said.


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