Matt Kuchar struggled in the final round of last week’s Masters after challenging winner Bubba Watson and runner-up Jordan Spieth, but the former Georgia Tech player found a sure cure for the post-major blues: a visit to Hilton Head
and Harbour Town Golf Links
Kuchar, whose 5-under par 66 Thursday put him atop the RBC Heritage
, said the change of venue was just the ticket. “You have a couple of days to unwind after a major, and then you’ve got a chance to play another PGA Tour event – not just a PGA Tour event but the RBC Heritage classic at Harbour Town.
“It’s a fantastic venue, fantastic tournament. It’s pretty easy to get excited for this.”
The golf course obviously suited Kuchar’s game Thursday. But he said it’s more about the overall island experience rather than just a favored golf course.
“We love it,” he said. “We have some good friends of ours from Atlanta (who) have a home out towards South Beach, so we stay with them, really enjoy spending the week with them. We just feel like it’s a home away from home for us. The kids come and play on the beach, play in the pool.”
Kuchar, who lives not far away at Sea Island, Ga., knows the oceanfront lifestyle, and says it suits him. Hilton Head fits into that as well.
“It’s a nice, relaxed lifestyle. It reminds us of where we live at Sea Island, just a very family-friendly (life). To see families riding bikes ... you see all families doing a bunch of activities together. And we find ourselves doing sort of similar things, a lot of family activities together while we’re here.”
Sounds like just the place
to put the disappointments and pressures of Augusta behind.
Driver is a proud papa
Carl Johnson Jr. is in his first year driving a media shuttle van at the RBC Heritage, ferrying reporters and others from their parking lot to the media center. And he was on the job Thursday – though few would’ve begrudged him if he’d called in sick.
Johnson, 27, became a father for the first time late Wednesday. Daughter Carly was 19.1 inches long and weighed in at seven pounds, four ounces, he said with a huge grin.
“I was going to cut the (umbilical) cord, but I kept having to wipe my eyes,” he said, “and they finally said, we can’t wait for you.”
Johnson, known around the Heritage as C.J., said he never considered not showing up for work. “Got to be here,” he said as he dropped off a busload of media. “It’s my job.”
Volunteer sees pros as they really are
Dave Pearsall, a Long Island native who moved to Hilton Head in 1994, is in his 18th year as an RBC Heritage volunteer. His first year, 1995, he helped run a U.S. Golf Association survey on putting, the forerunner of the PGA Tour’s current Shotlink system, which provides statistics on shot distances and other esoterica.
He then spent 12 years as chairman of volunteer shuttles, in charge of getting volunteers from a parking lot at Hilton Head Prep School to their jobs at Harbour Town Golf Links. These days, he’s assistant chairman.
That’s meant a lot of Aprils at Harbour Town – and a lot of memories.
“I remember late on a Saturday, (player) Lee Janzen was on the putting green with his little son – who’s now a big son, 10 years later,” Pearsall said. “They were having a putting contest, and the kid stopped one of Lee’s putts with his foot, and said, ‘You missed, Daddy.’”
He also recalled Brad Faxon, a longtime PGA Tour regular who played college golf at Furman, riding a bicycle with his two children in a trailer behind the bike. “They had their poles and were heading to the pond at (hole) No. 10,” Pearsall said.
But his favorite story is about Ernie Els and Vijay Singh walking to their cars one afternoon. “Vijay gets in his car, and Ernie ducked down behind another car,” Pearsall said. “As Vijay is driving out, Ernie jumps out and slaps the side of his card, hard. Vijay slams on brakes, and Ernie looks at me, grins and says, ‘Pretty good, huh?’
“That’s the great thing about this job. You get to see the players as people, up close.”
This and that
Lucky kids age 15 and younger can attend the RBC Heritage this weekend for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. ... The official merchandise tent, which in previous years was located just outside the main spectator gate to the golf course near the clubhouse, is now located between the first and ninth fairways, in front of the Heritage Expo Village. ... The tournament has situated ATM machines where they’re most needed: at the merchandise tent, the RBC Fan Experience Tent near the 18th tee, and the Michelob Ultra 19th Hole located behind the 18th green.