WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

Kuchar excited to defend Match Play title, especially if weather cooperates

2014-01-09T00:00:00Z Kuchar excited to defend Match Play title, especially if weather cooperatesBy Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Oh, the weather.

It’s January, and problems like “snow” and “wind chill” have struck much of the right half of the country.

But here in the Old Pueblo, it’s in the 70s and 60s, with some sun — shorts and a T-shirt are still acceptable. It’s perfect golf weather, in fact.

For Matt Kuchar, ideally, the sun will keep shining to the end of February, or at least in the Feb. 19-23 range, when the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship will take place at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana.

“Oh man,” Kuchar said, laughing. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

See, at last year’s tournament — which Kuchar won — the weather wasn’t quite as golf-friendly.

Snow will do that.

“I had the gloves with the hand warmers in it,” he said, “I figured my best way around the course, the best way to stay warm, and I did a pretty good job at managing.”

In the end, Kuchar came out on top, beating the event’s 2012 winner Hunter Mahan in the championship match after losing to him in the fourth round one year earlier.

The Star spoke with Kuchar on Wednesday:

What was it like winning last year’s tournament, and how does it feel to be coming back?

A: “It was a pretty cool way to start my year. Last year’s victory was fantastic. Match play is such a fun, unique format. We go to Tucson and Dove Mountain year after year; my wife always gets asked time after time what her favorite event of the year is, and she always says that Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain is her favorite. The people up there just take care of us, and it’s a special place. It’s an awesome feeling to be the last man standing in a match play event. You feel like you’ve conquered the field, you’ve gone the whole week without losing; it really is a great feeling.”

How do you feel about playing in difficult weather like the field did last year?

A: “I think we’re all OK playing in different conditions. I mean it’s funny, in the game of golf, I feel like if you want bad weather, just schedule a PGA Tour event for your city, and you’ll get some funny weather.  …

“My mentality may serve me well in bad weather that I’m OK, I’m not dreading it. I think some guys think it’s bad luck; for me it’s just a chance to play in unique different circumstances. … ”

“Certainly snow is, for me being a boy who grew up in Central Florida, it’s different. But I remember being at Georgia Tech as a freshman doing some qualification tournaments and just having some awful weather in Atlanta and just thinking man this is not at all what I’m used to, but I learned to deal with it.”

You’ve been in some heated battles with Hunter the last couple of years. What’s that been like, competing against him in this tournament?

A: “Pretty amazing. How impressive what he did in back-to-back years. His winning percentage is pretty amazing. That he won 11 great matches is incredible. I think people think he and I are probably similar when we go up because we shoot consistent golf. You’re not going to get a lot of easy holes out of us. Hunter and I aren’t gonna give away holes; that’s the key to being a good match player. You don’t want those freebies where you give a guy a hole, hitting one in the desert getting a double-bogey and giving a guy a hole, and I think Hunter and I avoid giving up holes pretty well.”

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt

at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @ZackBlatt

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