He was the smiling kid with his dad on the bag in his first U.S. Open, eager to be himself and not the guy he was following.
Matt Kuchar never expected to be the next Tiger Woods, mostly because even then he knew it wasn't possible. Winning the U.S. Amateur a year after Woods recorded his third straight amateur title got him into the 1998 Open, but it would be a long time before the two were in the same conversation again.
''I was never thinking because I won the amateur the year after Tiger that I was the next Tiger Woods,'' Kuchar said. ''That was never something that I thought about or thought I was going to follow the same path as Tiger. I knew I had a different path that was for me.''
That path was rocky at times, but Kuchar never lost faith in his talent. He rebuilt his swing, found his way back on the PGA Tour after a brief hiccup, and started contending in tournaments.
Now he's in another conversation this week at Merion Golf Club. He's joined a select few as perhaps the...