Kuchar mostly in con­trol

The London Free Press - - SPORTS -

PLAYA DEL CAR­MEN, Mex­ico — 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-of­bounds.

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 seven-un­der-par 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 bo­geyfree day and just easy and ev­ery­thing else to­day was about the same,” he said. “I just had that one chal­leng­ing hole.”

Two weeks af­ter win­ning the San­der­son Farms Cham­pi­onship in Mis­sis­sippi, long-hit­ting Champ worked on a few tweaks in his swing and was in full con­trol of where the ball was go­ing. For the sec­ond straight day, Champ missed only two fair­ways, key to good scor­ing at Mayakoba.

“It’s not a bomber’s course,” Champ said. “You have to place it off the tee, and some holes the rough is very thick and you’ve just got to whack it out. This course I feel like is very suit­able for ev­ery­one. Just to be able to place my

ball right in the fair­ways and on the greens and make the putts when I needed is great.”

The seven play­ers at 11-un­der 131 in­cluded de­fend­ing cham­pion Pat­ton Kizzire, past Mayakoba cham­pion Brian Gay and Anir­ban Lahiri of In­dia, who has played in the last two Pres­i­dents Cups. Eigh­teen play­ers were within five shots of the lead.

Three-time ma­jor cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth missed the cut of four-un­der 138 in his fi­nal event of the year af­ter a 69. Spi­eth man­aged only eight birdies in good scor­ing con­di­tions and will have the week­end off for the sev­enth time this year. Next up is his wed­ding over Thanks­giv­ing week­end.

HAINAN IS­LAND, China — Gaby Lopez turned 25 on Fri­day and cel­e­brated with a hole-in-one

that helped her to a six-un­der 66 and a one-stroke lead over Ariya Ju­tanu­garn af­ter the third round of the Blue Bay LPGA tour­na­ment.

Lopez will be af­ter her first ca­reer U.S. LPGA Tour vic­tory in the fi­nal round on Sat­ur­day and will play in the last group with Ju­tanu­garn, the No. 1-ranked golfer. They also played to­gether on Fri­day at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club.

“I have been wait­ing for this mo­ment,” the Mex­i­can said. “I’m very lucky to share the course with the best player in the world. You know, I had fun. I en­joyed to­day.”

Lopez aced the 17th, knock­ing in a 7-iron from 181 yards. She also had six birdies in­clud­ing three to open the round.

Ju­tanu­garn, of Thai­land, led by four strokes af­ter the sec­ond round but slipped to a 71, which in­cluded a bo­gey on the fi­nal hole.

GETTY IMAGES

Matt Kuchar cel­e­brates a birdie on the 15th hole with his cad­die dur­ing the sec­ond round of the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic in Playa del Car­men, Mex­ico.

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