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Family man Kuchar delivers perfect Mother's Day present

By Gary Morley, CNN
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Mon May 14, 2012
U.S. golfer Matt Kuchar celebrates with his sons Cameron (right) and Carson after winning the Players Championship in Florida.
U.S. golfer Matt Kuchar celebrates with his sons Cameron (right) and Carson after winning the Players Championship in Florida.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • American golfer Matt Kuchar climbs up world rankings after winning on Sunday
  • He finishes two shots clear at the $9.5 million Players Championship in Florida
  • Final-round playing partner Kevin Na is booed by the crowd for his slow play
  • Tiger Woods suggests scoring penalty for players who are too slow around course

(CNN) -- Matt Kuchar took home $1.7 million, the biggest prize in golf, for winning the Players Championship. It lifted him to a career-high fifth in the world rankings, but most importantly his family was there to see it.

The American's wife and two young sons raced onto the green after he clinched his fourth PGA Tour victory, and biggest by far. Also at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday were his dad and mom, who live nearby in Ponte Vedra Beach.

"It's such an amazing feeling -- playing amongst the game's best, to come out on top, to do it on Mother's Day, staying here with Mom and Dad, with my wife and two kids here ... it really is magical," Kuchar said on the PGA Tour website.

Kuchar, a top amateur who has never exploded on the professional scene, is known as one of golf's nice guys, a Mr. Consistent who has made the halfway cut in his past 17 starts and tied for third at the Masters in April.

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Tiger Woods had to defend himself at a press conference ahead of this week's $9.5 million Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Tiger Woods had to defend himself at a press conference ahead of this week's $9.5 million Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Question time
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Tiger Woods lines up at Players Championship Tiger Woods lines up at Players Championship
Rickie Fowler, one of golf's most colorful characters, celebrates his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow, where he won in a playoff against 2010 champion Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points. Rickie Fowler, one of golf's most colorful characters, celebrates his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow, where he won in a playoff against 2010 champion Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points.
Fowler's first
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Fowler\'s first PGA Tour title Fowler's first PGA Tour title
Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko is the youngest LPGA Tour winner in history courtesy of her win at the Canadian Women's Open. She was just 14 when she triumphed at the the New South Wales Open in January 2012, becoming the youngest player to win a professional tournament. She clinched the U.S. Amateur Championship two weeks ago. Fifteen-year-old Lydia Ko is the youngest LPGA Tour winner in history courtesy of her win at the Canadian Women's Open. She was just 14 when she triumphed at the the New South Wales Open in January 2012, becoming the youngest player to win a professional tournament. She clinched the U.S. Amateur Championship two weeks ago.
History maker
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It didn't even bother him that his final-round partner was Kevin Na, the third-round leader who was battling inner demons and heckling from the crowd as he struggled to get around the course in his allotted time.

"I feel like I'm so lucky to be doing what I do. I'm out there, I'm enjoying myself, having a good time. The smile is there because I'm having a good time, because I'm loving playing golf," Kuchar rold reporters.

"Kevin knows that he's fighting some demons with pulling the trigger, and in trying to help himself, he walks really fast. So he tries to offset his difficulty in actually hitting the ball by walking fast, getting up to his ball and trying to keep a similar pace of play."

South Korea-born Na, who is a naturalized American, collapsed with a closing 76 to finish tied for seventh -- five shots behind Kuchar.

"I deserve it," Na said of the booing. "I mean, I'm being honest. But is it fair? No. You put an average guy in between those ropes, trust me, they won't even pull it back."

Na had little sympathy from Tiger Woods, who suggested penalty strokes for slow players.

"Strokes is money. What people don't realize is that one shot is so valuable out here," the 2001 Players champion said after finishing tied for 40th, having closed with 73.

TPC Sawgrass is one of the toughest courses on the circuit, and even leading players such as Rory McIlroy struggle there.

The U.S. Open champion missed the halfway cut for the third time at the $9.5 million tournament, but retained the No. 1 ranking after Luke Donald finished only sixth despite a closing 66.

The Englishman was two shots behind a group of four tied for second, including last weekend's Quail Hollow winner Rickie Fowler, Texas Open champion Ben Curtis, 2007 Masters victor Zach Johnson and Scotland's Martin Laird.

But the spoils went to Kuchar, who claimed his first win since The Barclays in 2010 and can now take his place among some legendary names to have triumphed at the Players.

"I think one of the things that strikes me is walking every day through the champions' tunnel," he said.

"Every player does it. And for me, I can't help but stop and gaze at all the photos going through champions tunnel, and to think I'm going to be a part of that with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd and Phil Mickelson and David Duval and Tiger Woods, it's all the best of the best.

"To feel like I'm going to see my picture up there next year is pretty cool."

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