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

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

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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.

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