This Player Joins Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in Playing 1999, 2024 U.S. Opens at Pinehurst

Matt Kuchar was a 20-year-old amateur when he teed it up 25 years ago at Pinehurst No. 2.
Matt Kuchar has played in every U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
Matt Kuchar has played in every U.S. Open at Pinehurst. / Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

More Weekly Read: Final push for the 2024 Olympic Golf Tournament

Matt Kuchar will play in his 22nd U.S. Open this week and he got in the field the hard way: by qualifying. Kuchar was the medalist at The Bear’s Club last Monday at the 36-hole qualifying site in Florida and will join Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods as the only players in the field who also played at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.

At the time, Kuchar was a 20-year-old amateur at Georgia Tech.

Now he’s a 45-year-old PGA Tour veteran with nine Tour wins.

“I thought I did pretty well to make it through 36 holes,” Kuchar said. “But I was pretty worn out Tuesday.”

Kuchar will join Mickelson as the only players to compete in all four U.S. Opens at Pinehurst. He missed the cut in 1999 and 2005 and tied for 12th in 2014.

“I was really excited to make it through,” said Kuchar, who received a sponsor’s exemption to the Memorial, where he finished T33. “I’ve not had a great year and want to play in as many big events as I can play in. And to be able to play in the U.S. Open, I’m really proud and pleased. Very excited. I think there’s a greater appreciation level. By no means is that meant to say the exempt guys don’t deserve it, but having to do that 36-hole day, I’ll have a greater appreciation of being there this time.”

Matt Kuchar pictured at the 1999 Masters
Matt Kuchar, pictured at the 1999 Masters, also played in the 1999 U.S. Open. / The Augusta Chronicle-USA TODAY NETWORK

Kuchar, who won the 1997 U.S. Amateur, was the low amateur at the 1998 U.S. Open where his 14th-place finish got him into the 1999 U.S. Open. He recalled going to Pinehurst early for practice rounds and returned with some of his Georgia Tech teammates to play the course.

“I can’t believe there wasn’t a U.S. Open there before ’99,” he said. “I’m shocked there wasn’t one before that. My most standout memory was I made a couple of trips from Atlanta to play practice rounds with my teammates. I told them I’ll take whatever you want to lay down, but you won’t break 80. And nobody broke 80. I remember Pinehurst being that hard, that challenging.”

As Kuchar suggested, he’s struggled this year. He’s missed nine cuts including a stretch of four in a row. His best finish is a tie for 17th at the Charles Schwab Challenge.


Published |Modified
Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.