Kuchar in three-way tie at Mayakoba

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

US vet­eran Matt Kuchar, seek­ing his first US PGA Tour win since 2014, fired a seven-un­der par 64 on Thurs­day to share the Mayakoba Clas­sic lead with Kramer Hick­ock and Do­minic Bozzelli. Each of the co-lead­ers played with­out a bo­gey on the El Ca­ma­leon Golf Club course in Play del Car­men, Mex­ico.

Kuchar missed just two of 14 fair­ways on his way to his low­est open­ing round on tour since a 64 in the 2017 Phoenix Open. The 40-year-old won the most re­cent of his seven ti­tles at the 2014 RBC Her­itage.

He said the re­laxed at­mos­phere at the Mex­i­can re­sort con­trib­uted to his pro­duc­tive day. “It’s been a lit­tle bit of a work­ing va­ca­tion,” said Kuchar, who brought his fam­ily to Play del Car­men. “But I had a good time at the of­fice to­day as well.”

The fam­ily vibe con­tin­ued in Kuchar’s group when his wife, Sybi, stepped in for play­ing part­ner Zach John­son’s ail­ing cad­die af­ter nine holes. Kuchar him­self had a lo­cal cad­die on his bag, af­ter his reg­u­lar cad­die had made other plans be­fore Kuchar de­cided at the last minute to en­ter the tour­na­ment.

Kuchar teed off on 10 and his three birdies in his first nine holes in­cluded an 18-footer at the 16th. His four birdies com­ing in in­cluded three straight at four, five and six. Bozzelli, 27, and Hickok, 26, also had seven birdies apiece. Hick­ock, a buddy of three­time ma­jor win­ner Jor­dan Spi­eth, is play­ing in just his eighth PGA Tour event and his fourth this sea­son af­ter spend­ing last year on the de­vel­op­men­tal Web.com tour, where he won the DAP Cham­pi­onship and had five other top-10 fin­ishes.

“It’s kind of nice to look back and know that I’ve won on ev­ery stage,” said Hick­cok, who was also a two-time win­ner on the Macken­zie Tour last year. “I’ve been out there, and I’ve worked my way up. I’ve seen the suc­cess I’ve had on each level and know­ing I’ve had the suc­cess, mak­ing the step up to the next level, I think it’s go­ing to help me this year.”

More than half of the field of 132 posted scores in the 60s and a group of 15 play­ers were just one be­hind the lead­ers. That in­cluded In­dia’s Anir­ban Lahiri, whose six­un­der ef­fort was high­lighted by an ea­gle at the par-five fifth, and Mex­ico’s Abra­ham Ancer.

Amer­i­can Rickie Fowler head­lined an­other big group on 66. Spi­eth wasn’t able to take ad­van­tage of the scor­ing con­di­tions, balanc­ing four birdies with four bo­geys in an even par 71 that left him in a tie for 91st.


Matt Kuchar of the US plays a shot dur­ing the first round of the Mayakoba Clas­sic.

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