Kuchar leads at Mayakoba by four shots

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Sports - From Mi­ami Her­ald Wire Ser­vices

For three days, Matt Kuchar has felt in to­tal con­trol of his game at the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic in Playa Del Car­men, Mex­ico. It shows in his score.

For the sec­ond day in a row, 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 and build a four­shot lead as he tries to end more than four years with­out a PGA Tour vic­tory.

Kuchar was at 20-un­der 193, break­ing by three shots his per­sonal best on the tour, and by one shot is 54-hole score to par.

“I felt re­ally, re­ally good for three days,” Kuchar 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 green at the 18th to keep his four-shot mar­gin over Whee Kim, who had a 66.

The last time Kuchar had a four-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal round was the 2014 Hous­ton Open, and he wound up los­ing in a play­off when Matt Jones made a 45-foot birdie putt on the last hole and then chipped in from 40 yards in a play­off.

The other two times Kuchar had the 54-hole lead, he won the Me­mo­rial in 2013 one week af­ter los­ing a one-shot lead at Colo­nial.

EURO­PEAN TOUR

Ser­gio Garcia leads by two strokes go­ing into the fi­nal round of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and is on course for a wire-to-wire win at the penul­ti­mate event of the Euro­pean Tour sea­son.

Garcia im­proved his 1-shot overnight 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 at Gary Player Coun­try Club in Sun City, South Africa.

Garcia bo­geyed No. 18 for the sec­ond round in a row af­ter send­ing his ap­proach into the grand­stand. He signed for a 1-un­der 71 and 10-un­der over­all. Oosthuizen made birdie on the last to fin­ish with a 72 and two off Garcia when he was four be­hind on the last tee.

Thomas Detry, Mikko Korho­nen and two-time Ned­bank win­ner Lee West­wood are tied for third, three shots off the lead at 7-un­der. Ross Fisher is a fur­ther shot back.

Garcia birdied his sec­ond and third holes but found it tough at the back end of his round again, with his way­ward ap­proach to the last green fly­ing high into the rows of spec­ta­tors up on the stands.

Oosthuizen took ad­van­tage with just his sec­ond birdie of the day, al- though he ben­e­fited from a for­tu­nate kick off the right fringe of the green to set up his birdie putt.

Garcia is seek­ing a sec­ond straight win af­ter tri­umph­ing at home at the An­dalu­cia Valder­rama Mas­ters last month, and a vic­tory by the Spaniard would be the sec­ond wire-to-wire suc­cess of the sea­son af­ter Ed­die Pep­perell at the Bri­tish Mas­ters. Garcia has won twice at Sun City, but the last of those two ti­tles was in 2003.

Detry is in con­tention af­ter the young Bel­gian pro­duced an­other birdiefilled back nine as he picked up shots on four of his last six holes for his 68.

PGA TOUR CHAM­PI­ONS

Scott McCar­ron moved into po­si­tion to win the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons’ sea­son points race, birdieing the fi­nal two holes for a one-stroke lead in the Charles Sch­wab Cup Cham­pi­onship in Phoenix.

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 had an 18-un­der 195 to­tal.

McCar­ron, 53, fifth in the points stand­ings en­ter­ing the fi­nale, has eight vic­to­ries on the 50-an­dover tour, win­ning twice this year. He won three times on the PGA Tour.

Stephen Ames and Tim Petro­vic were tied for sec­ond. Ames had a 61. He birdied four of the first five holes and closed birdiepar-birdie-ea­gle. Petro­vic shot 66.

LPGA TOUR

Gaby Lopez won her first LPGA Tour event with a 1-over 73 to fin­ish one shot ahead of Ariya Ju­tanu­garn in the Blue Bay tour­na­ment in Hainan Is­land, China.

Lopez had bo­geys on the last two holes at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club on Satur­day and al­most let the ti­tle slip away. She fin­ished at 8-un­der 280.

Play­ing in a group with Lopez, No. 1-ranked Ju­tanu­garn had a birdie on the fi­nal hole to also fin­ish on 73. Ce­line Boutier shot a 66 and fin­ished two shots off the lead.

Lopez is the first win­ner from Mex­ico since Lorena Ochoa, a driv­ing force for the game in that Latin Amer­i­can coun­try.

“I mean, she’s been my in­spi­ra­tion my en­tire life,” Lopez said of Ochoa.

Ochoa was the LPGA’s top-ranked golfer for sev­eral years un­til she re­tired in 2010. She won 27 LPGA Tour events.

Lopez said she was also think­ing of her grand­fa­ther, Jose Lopez, who died re­cently.

“I al­ways told him that I was go­ing to give him my first tro­phy,” Lopez said. “Sadly I didn’t, but he was with me all week long and I couldn’t be more lucky, more for­tu­nate to have him still alive in me.”

ROB CARR Getty Im­ages

Matt Kuchar shot 6-un­der 65 Satur­day and set the 54-hole record at the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic at 20-un­der.

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