Kuchar just keeps cruis­ing in Mex­ico

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - PAGE 2 BITS -

PLAYA DEL CAR­MEN, Mex­ico — For three days, Matt Kuchar has felt in to­tal con­trol of his game at the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic.

It’s more than a feel­ing, and he’s on the verge of walk­ing away with his first PGA Tour vic­tory in quite some time.

For the sec­ond straight day, Kuchar had enough birdies to atone for one rough hole, and it car­ried him to a 6-un­der-par 65 to set the 54-hole tour­na­ment record at 20-un­der 193 and build a four-shot lead. His score through three rounds was three shots bet­ter than his pre­vi­ous per­sonal best for 54 holes on the tour, and it was one shot bet­ter in re­la­tion to par.

Kuchar, a for­mer Ge­or­gia Tech stand­out, earned the most re­cent of his 13 PGA Tour wins at the RBC Her­itage in April 2014. One more good day could bring No. 14.

“I felt re­ally, re­ally good for three days,” the 40-year-old Sea Is­land, Ge­or­gia, res­i­dent said. “I mean, 20 un­der is my best 54-hole to­tal. I felt in con­trol of my ball striking. I felt in con­trol of driv­ing, the iron play, the put­ting. It’s been a great three days.”

Kuchar saved par from just off the 18th green to keep his four-shot mar­gin over Whee Kim, who shot a 66.

Danny Lee and Richy Weren­ski each shot a 67 and were five shots back, with Cameron Champ (69), J.J. Spaun (65) and 2017-18 rookie of the year Aaron Wise (63) tied for fifth at 14 un­der.

“I can’t go out there and think a whole bunch of pars are go­ing to get me in the win­ner’s cir­cle,” Kuchar said. “I’ve still got to make a good num­ber of birdies, and with that, some­what have the pedal down.”

Kuchar has been pil­ing up birdies at El Ca­ma­leon Golf Club, and he be­gan to pull away with four birdies on the front nine in the third round. Just like Fri­day, how­ever, one hole gave him stress. It was the 12th hole in the sec­ond round, when he had to make a 35-foot bo­gey putt. On Satur­day, it was a tee shot on the 14th.

Kuchar took a penalty from the hazard, then dropped in a good lie a few inches next to the cart path. In­stead of tak­ing re­lief into deeper rough, he hit with his feet on the path and picked it clean so his fair­way metal wouldn’t smack into the ce­ment. It came up just short of the green, and he chipped to five feet from the hole and made the bo­gey putt.

Chat­tanooga’s Stephan Jaeger (68) was tied for 17th at 11-un­der 202, with fel­low Bay­lor School grad­u­ates Keith Mitchell (72) and Har­ris English (74) in ties for 60th at 4 un­der and 67th at 2 un­der, re­spec­tively.

McCar­ron in charge

PHOENIX — Scott McCar­ron moved into po­si­tion to win the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons’ sea­son points race, mak­ing birdies on his fi­nal two holes Satur­day for a one-stroke lead en­ter­ing the fi­nal round of the Charles Sch­wab Cup Cham­pi­onship.

McCar­ron shot a 5-un­der 66 on an­other warm and sunny day at Phoenix Coun­try Club. One of six play­ers fight­ing for the Charles Sch­wab Cup and a $1 mil­lion an­nu­ity, McCar­ron was at 18-un­der 195 over­all.

Stephen Ames (61) and Tim Petro­vic (66) were tied for sec­ond, and sec­ond-round leader Paul Goy­dos (69) was two strokes back in fourth.

Garcia still on top

SUN CITY, South Africa — Ser­gio Garcia shot a 1-un­der 71 to take a two-stroke lead into the fi­nal round of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge, put­ting the 38-year-old Spa­niard on course for a wire-to-wire win at the penul­ti­mate event of the Eu­ro­pean Tour sea­son.

The Ry­der Cup star, who was at 10-un­der 206 over­all, im­proved his one-shot third-round lead over Louis Oosthuizen, al­though the gap would have been big­ger if not for a two-shot swing Oosthuizen’s way on the fi­nal hole of the third round.

Garcia bo­geyed No. 18 for the sec­ond straight day af­ter send­ing his ap­proach into the grand­stand. Oosthuizen made a birdie on the last hole for a 72.

Garcia is seek­ing a third Ned­bank ti­tle but his first since 2003, while Oosthuizen, 36, has never won his home coun­try’s most pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment.

Thomas Detry (69), Mikko Korho­nen (71) and two-time Ned­bank win­ner Lee West­wood (69) were tied for third, three shots off the lead.

Lopez breaks through

HAINAN IS­LAND, China — Gaby Lopez closed with a 1-over 73 for a one-stroke vic­tory in the LPGA Blue Bay, hold­ing off No. 1-ranked Ariya Ju­tanu­garn at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club.

It’s the first LPGA Tour win for the 25-year-old for­mer Univer­sity of Arkansas stand­out, who fin­ished at 8-un­der 280 over­all.

Lopez had bo­geys on the last two holes while play­ing in the fi­nal group with Ju­tanu­garn, who closed with a birdie to match the win­ner’s 73. For the round, Lopez had five bo­geys and four birdies, while Ju­tanu­garn had four bo­geys (all on the front nine) and three birdies (all on the back nine).

Lopez is the tour’s first win­ner from Mex­ico since Lorena Ochoa, a driv­ing force for the game in that coun­try. Ochoa earned 27 tour vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing two ma­jor ti­tles, reached No. 1 in the world and was a four-time LPGA player of the year be­fore re­tir­ing in 2010 at age 28.

“I mean, she’s been my inspiration my en­tire life,” Lopez said of Ochoa. “That’s why I’m ac­tu­ally a pro­fes­sional golfer.”

Ce­line Boutier (66) fin­ished two shots off the lead in third. Danielle Kang (68) and Sei Young Kim (71) shared fourth at 5-un­der 283, with Jen­nifer Song (72) sixth at 3 un­der.

AP FILE PHOTO/CHAR­LIE NEIBERGALL

Scott McCar­ron, shown dur­ing the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons’ Prin­ci­pal Char­ity Clas­sic in June, held a one-stroke lead en­ter­ing the fi­nal round of the sea­son-end­ing Charles Sch­wab Cup Cham­pi­onship.

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