Written by Staff Writer
Jeffery Smith, CNN
World number one Dustin Johnson couldn’t stop Matt Kuchar from beating him over 18 holes in the matchplay event.
The match concluded Tuesday, after three hours, 28 minutes of play at Augusta National, Georgia, with Kuchar winning 2 and 1.
Commenting on the tight battle, the 38-year-old Kuchar admitted that his top ranking was no consolation.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson reacts after losing the match in the eighth hole during The Match at Augusta National Golf Club on November 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
But none of that detracted from what Johnson said about 27-year-old Jon Rahm, who defeated him in the third round.
“[Rahm’s] just a great kid and he’s going to be a very good player for a long time and he’s going to hit a lot of fairways and greens,” said Johnson.
He continued: “But I played a really, really good round of golf and I wish I could have just kept rolling and kept hitting fairways and greens, keeping drives in play and hitting greens in regulation and kept that rolling in.”
Johnson turned his attention to the future, adding: “Hopefully, he’ll keep improving with his driver and his short game, and I hope he’s one of the world’s top guys in ten or 15 years.”
As for his latest display on the course, Johnson told ESPN: “It’s one of those things where I just wanted to spank him. He played good. He was on the same good ball striking mode that he was for the tournament as well. I’m just happy to get a win.”
Johnson beat the likes of Day, Mickelson and Graeme McDowell in a three-day run of play. He couldn’t get past Rahm in the third round.
What could have been
Rahm was heartened by his match’s outcome.
“At the beginning of the week I knew it could be a close final and I felt like I showed my competitiveness and worked my way into the match,” he said.
Rahm added that the friendship he shares with Kuchar and Carl Pettersson, who he beat in the first round, convinced him to run all the way in the competition.
For Johnson, it was the third consecutive year that he was knocked out of “The Match” at Augusta National, with Michael Thompson and defending champion Jason Day also getting knocked out by Rahm in the previous two seasons.