Kuchar goes up by 2 at PGA Tour event

The Sacramento Bee - - Sports -

Matt Kuchar knew he was in trou­ble when his tee shot sailed so far to the right that he hit a pro­vi­sional in case the ball was out-of-bounds.

He found the ball, and some­how never lost the lead.

Kuchar es­caped his only big mess Fri­day with a

35-foot bo­gey putt on the

12th hole, and he rode eight birdies to a 7-un­der

64 that gave him a twoshot lead over PGA Tour rookie Cameron Champ go­ing into the week­end at the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic.

Champ, go­ing af­ter his sec­ond vic­tory in three weeks, played in the morn­ing and shot 62 with a bo­gey on his fi­nal hole.

Kuchar was at 14-un­der 128 as he tries to end more than four years without a PGA Tour vic­tory.

“Yes­ter­day was kind of a bo­gey-free day and just easy, and ev­ery­thing else to­day was about the same,” he said. “I just had that one chal­leng­ing hole.”

The chal­lenge was fig­ur­ing out what to do once he found it.

The ball was un­der a clus­ter of trees and bushes with rocks scat­tered ev­ery­where.

Even tak­ing a one-shot penalty for an un­playable lie was not an easy op­tion. If his drop set­tled be­tween rocks, he would have to play that or take an­other penalty.

Fi­nally, he found a spot and the drop landed in enough soft soil for him to pitch out of trou­ble, through the fair­way and into the rough. He got his fourth shot onto the green and made the long putt to es­cape with bo­gey.

“That was great,” Kuchar said. “I knew I had a par 5 fol­low­ing it, and I fig­ured I was prob­a­bly go­ing to make dou­ble there and birdie on the next.

“I ended up mak­ing bo­gey there and par on the par-5 13th, so still felt like I was very much in con­trol.”

What put Kuchar in good shape were the five straight birdies on the front nine, and then he took the lead for the first time with a birdie on No.

11 be­fore his wild ad­ven­ture on the 12th hole. Tied again for the lead, he added two birdies com­ing in for his two-shot cush­ion.

The cut was at 4-un­der

138. The week­end will not in­clude Jor­dan Spieth.

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