Kuchar has Huntington acquaintances on his side
"I had a great gallery,'' said Kuchar, whose mother, the former Meg Wright, was born and raised in Huntington.
"I couldn't tell you the sheer number of people from Huntington, friends and family and supporters, but it seemed like there was a solid gallery. It was fun to be a part of. I wish I could have had a few more birdies out there. Maybe I was trying too hard.''
Kuchar, who has played the Old White Course on two other occasions, opened with a 1-under-par 69 in the PGA Tour's inaugural stop in the Greenbrier Valley. His round included four birdies and three bogeys.
"I made a couple of birdies late, which was nice,'' Kuchar said. "I felt like I was playing good golf, just struggling to get the balls to go into the hole.
"It was kind of a boring round. It feels like there was an opportunity to go 5 or 6 under par and a couple of guys have done it. I feel like I'm losing ground.''
Kuchar birdied No. 10 and No. 17 on his front nine, but bogeyed No. 11 and No. 18. After a bogey on No. 3 on his back nine, he rebounded with birdies on No. 5 and No. 7.
"I'm hoping this was just kind of a slow start and it gets better each day,'' said Kuchar, a native of Winter Haven, Fla. "That was kind of the progression last week.
"I shot even par to open up the Canadian Open, had a couple good rounds following that and I slid into a tie for fourth place. Hopefully, I'll do the same thing here.''
Kuchar is having his best season yet on the PGA Tour.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Kuchar has seven top-10 finishes and entered this week's Greenbrier Classic seventh in the FedExCup standings, 508 points behind leader Ernie Els. Kuchar is also ranked 24th in this week's World Golf Rankings and is seventh on the PGA Tour money list.
The 32-year-old Kuchar tied for second at the Bob Hope Classic, was third at the SBS Championship, tied for third at the World Golf Championship-CA Championships, took fourth in last week's Canadian Open and was sixth at the U.S. Open.
"It's looking like my best year ever,'' said Kuchar, who turned pro in 2000 after an All-America career at Georgia Tech. "It's really been a good, consistent year, a lot of good finishes and not many missed cuts.
"As far as consistency and good, quality play, this is by far my best. It's been fun to play well week in and week out. That's what we all strive for and it's fun to find yourself at least to have a good tournament. It would be nice to get back in the winner's circle. It always makes the year extra special.''
Kuchar said his game has been getting better and better every year since he started working with swing coach Chris O'Connell four years ago.
"He's helped my game and there's been a steady improvement ever since,'' said Kuchar, who has two PGA victories in his career.
Kuchar said he doesn't get to visit family in Huntington as much as he would like because of his busy schedule. Huntington residents Sandy and George H. "Hank'' Wright III are his aunt and uncle, and Kuchar's grandparents are Becky and George H. Wright Jr.
"No, not a lot,'' he said. "We spent the Fourth of July [at The Greenbrier] a couple of years ago. [I was] hoping to make it a tradition, but golf unfortunately gets in the way.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.