By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PONTE VEDRA BEACH Florida (Reuters) - Matt Kuchar has been golf's 'Mr. Consistency' for the past two years and he returns to the PGA Tour for this week's Players Championship after a welcome break following a victory in his last start.
The slender American ended a frustrating run of close calls in spectacular style when he holed a bunker shot on his final hole to win last month's RBC Heritage in South Carolina, his seventh career win on the U.S. circuit.
Kuchar then took two weeks off to spend precious time with his family and said he felt energized and excited on his return to a "special" venue where he clinched the coveted Players title in 2012.
"To have two weeks to enjoy a victory is awfully nice, because it's not often it works out that way," world number five Kuchar told reporters at the TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday. "I'm always excited to be back here.
"This is a special place to me and it continues to be special. It was amazing to win here two years ago. To have the whole thing happen the way it did, on Mother's Day, everything kind of come together to be a pretty magical story for me.
"This tournament is unique. There's a great buzz about it. There's a great energy. I think all of us that show up are awfully excited to have Thursday get here and get started."
Playing trouble-free golf in the final round, Kuchar won the 2012 Players Championship by two shots to secure the biggest win of his career and a $1.71 million paycheck.
"I knew I was in some pretty good form, things were going well, but this course is so demanding, you just have to be on all aspects of your game," he recalled of that victory.
"It's a similar setup to a major. You're tested everywhere. The margin for error is very slim. I was playing well, I was putting really well, went through some good rounds and was one back going into Sunday.
"And then I had some good things go my way ... to be able to pull it off was great."
Kuchar has built on that triumph in impressive style, winning three more titles on the PGA Tour and making every cut in his 2013 campaign with an extraordinary run of consistency.
This season has been little different, with Kuchar recording eight top-10s in 11 starts with only one missed cut, at the Northern Trust Open in February.
"Everything's rounded into some really nice form," said the 35-year-old, who would become world number one for the first time with a victory this week. "I've been very pleased.
"Ball striking got really clean. I hit a lot of good shots. I hit a lot of greens for four straight weeks. It was a nice stretch of golf. Now I've built back up and I'm ready to go again for this week."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)