By Larry Fine
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - With big victories adding up on his PGA Tour profile, Matt Kuchar hopes his natural progression will lead him to the missing piece on his resume - a major championship.
The 34-year-old American won last year's prestigious Players Championship and notched his first World Golf Championships title this year at the Accenture Match Play for his fifth career win.
After finishing tied for third at the 2012 Masters, Kuchar believes he is ready to take the next step at the year's first major when the Masters begins on Thursday at Augusta National.
"It just gives me confidence knowing that I can contend in major championships, that I can be there late on Sunday," Kuchar said on Monday about last year's Masters. "It was my first real chance to win a major coming down the stretch late on Sunday."
Kuchar, who along with Masters winner Bubba Watson were the only two players to break par all four rounds last year, was tied for the lead after making an eagle on the par-five 15th hole in the final round but bogeyed the 16th and missed out on joining a playoff with Watson and Louis Oosthuizen.
"It just feels like one of those stepping stones into continuing to contend and winning majors, just having that experience that I've been there," he said. "The more times you're there, the more comfortable you get with it."
While some major championship winners carefully devise their preparations ahead of major tournaments, world number nine Kuchar said he believed consistency was the best way to flourish in the majors.
"To me I always felt like it was hard to turn things off and on. I would like to kind of be 'on' with regularity and play well week‑in and week‑out, and I felt like that was the best preparation...and let that carry into major championships.
"I'd like to be able to kind of roll out of bed, know that I'm going to be hitting it good and have a good chance when I tee it up. I felt like my game has progressed that way."
While Kuchar, who began this season with a pair of top 10s in Hawaii, raved about the condition of Augusta National he was a little worried about how fast the greens were running.
"It seems every year when I play practice rounds, you kind of get a feeling that the greens get quicker and quicker each day," said Kuchar, who will be playing in his seventh Masters.
"They are already quick. They are already firm. I'm a little nervous to think what awaits us on Thursday."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)