By Steve Elling
MARANA, Ariz. -- As his past American teammates in international cup competitions can attest, Matt Kuchar can apply the verbal tourniquet as well as any player in golf. Even Phil Mickelson, a master of the craft, has openly expressed his admiration for Kuchar's needlework.
Kuchar's quick wit, displayed in a very public fashion, created a lively bit of discourse for a few moments after he was pummeled by Hunter Mahan, 6 and 5, in the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday.
Broadcast analyst Nick Faldo had expressed on the air Friday night that he felt long putters gave players an advantage, and after Kuchar raked the ball all over Dove Mountain in his loss, three-putting from everywhere, he said he wanted to whack "Faldo in the neck."
Of course, minus the context, some wondered whether he was serious. Kuchar immediately sought out the six-time major winner to explain himself.
It was a joke that misfired about as badly as his putting stroke. He was trying to suggest that, given the way he putted Saturday with his long model, it was reason enough not to ban the long sticks.
"I think I have a chilly sense of humor," Kuchar explained later. "It was meant to be funny. Nick’s a big boy [physically]. I don’t want any piece of him. I thought it might be funny.
"It was funny in my mind. I don’t know if it was funny in anybody else’s mind."
It could be worse. A few years ago, an angry girlfriend, Brenna Cepelak, whacked the front of Faldo's Porsche. She wasn't kidding.