PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Matt Kuchar ended more than four years without a PGA Tour victory Sunday by closing with a 2-under 69 and holding up through a few nervous moments down the stretch to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Kuchar had a four-shot lead going into the final round. But after making two bogeys over the first 67 holes in the tournament, he made two bogeys in two holes, on Nos. 14 and 15, and his lead shrank to one shot when Danny Lee made a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 16th hole.
Lee finished with two pars for a 65.
Kuchar still wasn’t entirely in the clear. His 15-foot birdie attempt rolled about 3½ feet past the hole on No. 17 and he had to make that for par. And on the 18th, he left his 30-foot birdie putt about 3 feet short and had to roll that in to win by one shot.
“I didn’t want a 3-footer on the last hole,” Kuchar said. “I was hoping to have a three- or four-shot lead for some wiggle room. But man, that felt awfully good.” The 40-year-old had gone 115 starts on the PGA Tour since his previous victory, in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head in April 2014. It comes at the end of what had been a disappointing year in which Kuchar finished out of the top 70 on the PGA Tour money list for the first time since 2007, and he failed to make the Ryder Cup team for the first time in 10 years.
“My 2018 wasn’t what I wanted,” Kuchar said. “This is a high note. It’s an amazing thing to get a win. I go from ‘hola’ to ‘aloha.’ I’m pretty excited about that.” Kuchar qualifies for the Sentry Tournament of Champions to start 2019 at Kapalua.
He finished at 22-under 262, breaking by one the 72-hole record at Mayakoba previously held by Harris English.
Lee was the only player to make a sustained run at Kuchar. PGA Tour rookie Cameron Champ had a 12-foot eagle attempt on the 13th hole that would have brought him to within two shots, but he missed the putt and sent his next tee shot into the mangroves, making double-bogey.
Lee had six birdies in 13 holes but missed a 6-foot par putt on the 15th, unaware that Kuchar made bogey behind him.
Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk closed with a 67 and was among those who tied for sixth.
Kuchar won for the eighth time on the PGA Tour in a career marked more by consistency than trophies. This year, he had neither. He had only four top-10s — his best finish was a tie for fifth in Phoenix — and was coming off a tie for 57th in Las Vegas.
He added Mayakoba at the last minute, and with his regular caddie having previous plans, Kuchar hired a local caddie from El Camaleon. He referred to the week as a “working vacation” because of the beaches and amenities at Mayakoba, though it felt like work at the end.
“Golf is such a funny game,” Kuchar said. “It’s hard to predict when it’s going to come around.”