Donald, Kuchar Looking for a major breakthrough at US Open

dscott@charlotteobserver.comJune 12, 2013 

— When Adam Scott won the Masters in April, he took himself off a list that golfers of his stature want no part of: the best players to have never won a major tournament.

So as the U.S. Open begins Thursday at Merion Golf Club, who moves to the top of that list?

It might be Luke Donald, a former world No. 1 who has never played well in the U.S. Open. Or Matt Kuchar, who has won the Players Championship and is the PGA Tour’s hottest player at this stage of the season.

“There’s a lot of us in that boat,” Kuchar, who won at Memphis last weekend and was second at Colonial the week before that, said Wednesday. “We hear a lot of that talk every week.

“Certainly a major championship, a U.S. Open is one I’m geared up for. I’m looking forward to competing and trying to put my name on that trophy. I’ve made the steps in the right direction. I feel like I’ve kind of stepped up in the ranks of winning against the best players in the world.”

That’s where Scott was before he won a playoff in rainy Augusta over Angel Cabrera. Scott’s Masters triumph came after he’d blown a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the 2012 British Open, a low point of 10 previous seasons of trying to win one of golf’s four majors.

Scott turned the frustration of his collapse at Lytham and St. Anne’s into something he could use later.

“The (British) Open, as disappointing as that was, the self belief it gave me – which sounds a bit odd, seeing I didn’t win, far out weighed the disappointment of it. It was like, ‘Finally I’ve played really, really well and essentially controlled that tournament for the whole week.’ It was all in my hands to win or lose. And I lost.

“To get there just gave me the belief that I was on the right track. And the belief that I’m good enough to win a major. It was like the final piece in the puzzle for me to get that through my head.”

Donald, who was No. 1 in the world for 56 weeks before handing it over to Tiger Woods, doesn’t have a top 10 in his 11 previous U.S. Opens.

He said the pressure of winning a major doesn’t really change, whatever his ranking has been.

“Yes and no,” he said. “There’s always more attention, more requests of your time and that takes management and that’s tough. But within, the pressures are just the same. I want to win a major championship just as badly this year as I did when I was No. 1. It’s about managing those expectations, managing those feelings and knowing what you have is good enough.”

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