Kuchar takes lead into fi­nal day

He has a two-shot edge over Put­nam after 4-un­der 66

Albany Times Union (Sunday) - - SPORTS - Hon­olulu

Matt Kuchar kept an­other clean card and shot a 4-un­der 66 to take a two-shot lead into the fi­nal round of the Sony Open, a chance to win twice in one PGA Tour sea­son for only the sec­ond time in his ca­reer.

Kuchar ended a four-year drought by win­ning the Mayakoba Clas­sic in Mex­ico last fall, and there are a few sim­i­lar­i­ties. He set a per­sonal record for 54 holes in Mayakoba at 193. He went one bet­ter at Wa­ialae at 18-un­der 192.

Both cour­ses re­quire keep­ing the ball in play, and Kuchar has done that well over three rounds. He has made only one bo­gey through 54 holes, and he only came se­ri­ously close to one on Satur­day, sav­ing par from the bunker on the par-3 17th.

“Good, steady golf,” Kuchar said. “It felt easy out there. I didn’t find my­self in any trou­ble.”

An­drew Put­nam was two shots be­hind after a 67.

Keith Mitchell had a 63 to pull within four shots, along with Chez Reavie, who fell back with three straight bo­geys early on the back nine. Those were the only play­ers within five shots of the lead, and all of them are chas­ing Kuchar.

“I an­tic­i­pate need­ing an­other good score to­mor­row,” Kuchar said. “I know I can’t coast.”

Kuchar is 2-2 when he has the 54-hole lead go­ing into the fi­nal round.

The only other time Kuchar won twice in the same sea­son was in 2013, when he won the Match Play Cham­pi­onship in Ari­zona in Fe­bru­ary and the Me­mo­rial in early June. That put him at No. 4 in the world, the high­est he has been in his ca­reer.

Kuchar was slid­ing his way out of the top 50 to­ward the end of last year, when he failed to make a Ry­der Cup or Pres­i­dents Cup team for the first time since 2009. But he had a good ses­sion with his swing coach in Dal­las, and it paid off two weeks later on the Gulf side of the Mex­i­can coast.

This was more of the same.

Put­nam, who won for the first time last year in the Bar­racuda Cham­pi­onship held op­po­site a World Golf Cham­pi­onship, did his best to stay in reach. They were tied through seven holes un­til Put­nam made bo­gey on No. 8 and failed to birdie the par-5 ninth, the eas­i­est hole at Wa­ialae. Put­nam missed an 8-foot birdie at­tempt on No. 18.

“Didn’t feel as easy as the first two days,” Put­nam said. “Still played a good round. Still got a chance.”

Bryson Decham­beau had a 63 and led a large pack at 11-un­der 199, seven shots out of the lead for a slim chance at win­ning un­less the lead­ers come back to the field. Also tied for fifth were Charles How­ell III and 54-year-old Davis Love III, who had one of his bet­ter putting rounds.

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

Matt Kuchar plays a shot dur­ing the third round of the Sony Open. Kuchar’s 18-un­der 192 is the low­est 54-hole score of his ca­reer.

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