Kuchar up by 2 at Tour event in Mex­ico

The Sun News - - 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 two-shot 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.

Champ al­ready is the talk of the tour for the speed of his swing and how far he hits the ball, though there is more to his game than length. El Ca­ma­leon Golf Club is all about lo­ca­tion – prefer­ably the fair­way – more than smash­ing it as far as pos­si­ble.

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