Plus, frankly, Kuchar's new swing won't win any beauty contests. The only reason other Tour players watch him practice is to suss out how he pockets a five- or six-figure check virtually every time he tees it up. Or to ask how he arranged, last year, to make the fewest bogeys on Tour. "He's been our most consistent player for the last year and a half," says 2003 U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk. "Week in, week out, he's played the best."
"You can hear Matt talking to his golf ball out there, saying 'stinker' and 'golly gee,'" adds an amused Mark Wilson. "But he's always got game, and he always seems to move to the top of the leader board by the weekend."
Pressed for his secret, Kuchar points to his ball striking, his wedge game, his putting and his course management—i.e., everything. "People ask me what the difference was between last year and before," he said on his walk to the range. "But actually I've gotten better every year since I started working with Chris. There's been a nice steady improvement."
Some say it's not the Kuchar swing, it's the Kuchar temperament. "He doesn't seem to take it real serious," says David Toms, this year's Colonial champion. "He simply plays his game." Fellow Ryder Cupper Hunter Mahan says, "He has a killer instinct, but he's superpatient. He doesn't get too down on himself."
We couldn't photograph Kuchar's demeanor, but we got him to admit that his mental approach was critical to his success. "I don't beat myself up when I miss a couple of shots," he said, still ambling. "I'm very accepting of mediocre shots."
Is his reasoning more important than his swing?
He stopped. He thought. He shook his head. He said, "I don't think you can think your way to better golf. If you can't hit the ball on the sweet spot, time after time, your mental approach isn't going to make a difference."
To end the session in the darkened room, we asked Kuchar to adjust his stance 45 degrees and aim out of the cube. "Swing a bit faster," the photographer said.
Happy to oblige, Kuchar set the club above his shoulder and waited. The shutter clicked, the blue brushstroke started its smooth descent...and then the clubhead exploded in blue sparks. Little shooting stars raced toward us, peppering the darkness with unexplained clinks, clanks and thuds before we could even flinch.
To yelps of alarm and glee, someone flicked on the room lights. The LEDs, we saw at once, had detached from the club face and strafed the room, knocking over cans, scattering papers and ricocheting off tripods. "Wow!" said the photographer.