Kuchar just keeps cruising in Mexico
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.
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.