(Adds quotes, details)
By Ed Osmond
AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 9 (Reuters) - Matt Kuchar made a hole in one at the par-three 16th on the way to finishing tied for fourth in the U.S. Masters on Sunday, the highest-placed American at the year’s first major.
The 38-year-old struck a perfect seven-iron from 179 yards, the ball landing on the green, running up a slope before taking a hard turn to the left. It then trickled back down into the left side of the cup to wild cheers from the gallery.
The only ace at this year’s Masters took Kuchar to five under par and he parred the last two holes to finish tied for fourth, four shots behind Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.
Garcia beat Rose in a playoff to claim his first major title.
“What a thrill,” Kuchar told reporters. “It’s funny, that hole has given me problems in the past.”
After celebrating wildly with his caddie on the tee, Kuchar walked to the green and retrieved his ball, which he signed and presented to a young boy wearing a bright orange T-shirt in the front row of the crowd.
”The cool part of our job is making a kid’s day,“ Kuchar said. ”And we have an opportunity to do that quite often. I’ve got enough hole in one balls.
“It’s one of the neat things that we can do. There’s nothing like seeing a smile come over a kid’s face.”
Kuchar’s best Masters finish was tied third in 2012.
Editing by Andrew Both/Peter Rutherford