The smile is still there, and so is the week-in, week-out consistency that has made Matt Kuchar a very rich man.
He’s also got an Olympic medal, though tellingly it’s not gold.
What’s missing are the wins, especially in the major championships that truly define a golfer’s career. He’s never won one, even while cashing enough top-10 checks to earn more than $40 million playing professional golf.
Kuchar took a first baby step toward changing that Thursday, shooting a 5-under-65 that got him into a three-way tie for the lead after the opening round of The Open Championship.
His history indicates his name will probably still be on the leaderboard on Sunday. The odds are it may not still be on top.
“I always think you can judge a lot about a golf course by its leaderboard Sunday afternoon,” Kuchar said. “A Thursday afternoon, it’s Thursday. Sunday is the proper four-round test. So we’ll wait until Sunday and see what the leaderboard looks like.”
Kuchar took advantage of an afternoon tee time, when the sun came out and conditions became more favorable, to join Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka atop the leaderboard. He did it right out of the box, shooting a 29 on the front side and then parring every hole on the back at Royal Birkdale.
Kuchar was helped by a rare birdie on the brutal par-4 sixth hole that played to a 4.5 stroke average.