Matt Kuchar was rolling along until he hit a big bump in the road and let his chasers back in the race.
The 45-year-old Kuchar (pictured) held a six-stroke lead until he made a quadruple-bogey 8 on 15th hole, but he still finished with a five-under-par 67 and is tied for the lead with Camilo Villegas of Colombia heading to the final round of the 17th World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamonte in Los Cabos, Mexico.
“The 15th hole is one of the trickier ones on golf this course and I just hit a terrible tee shot into the junk, and a few other bad shots there,” said Kuchar, who won this tournament in 2018 for one of his nine victories on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 Players Championship. “But I played really good golf the rest of the day and I’m still confident because of that. That’s just golf.
“I had a big lead and lost it quickly, and it’s simply amazing how things can turn around so fast in this game. Still, to shoot five-under-par on this golf course makes me feel really good about where my game is. To play so well for the first 14 holes was simply amazing and I’ll just let the rest roll off my back.
“I hope to keep playing well tomorrow and hope to have a good chance to win.”
Kooch, whose last victory on the PGA Tour came in the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii, eagled the first hole and added five birdies to shot 29 on the front nine, before adding three straight birdies through No. 14 while recording a 54-hole score of 19-under-par 197.
Villegas, the 36-hole leader, made four birdies on the last six holes including a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 18, to cap at 69 and pulled into a tie for the lead after being seven shots behind Kuchar at one stage.
“I made four bogeys today, but then hit some great shots coming in,” said Villegas, who claimed the last of his four PGA Tour victories in the 2014 Wyndham Championship. “Kooch played so well for so long, so it was nice to make a birdie on the last hole to pull into a tie for the lead with him. He played unbelievable golf, other than two bad holes.
“It was great to hear the cheers from the Mexican crowd and the Latin American community is so great, and they really come out to support me when I play here, so I’m happy to perform well for them.
“It’s nice to see the hard work I’ve done in the last year pay off, and I’ll back here tomorrow, hopefully with a chance to win.”
Erik van Rooyen of South Africa eagled the third hole and added four birdies on the front nine en route to a 66 and is one shot behind in solo third, while Mackenzie Hughes of Canada eagled the first hole and added eight birdies in a 63 and is two down in a tie fourth with Will Gordon, who had six birdies on the front nine and added another at No. 18 to cap at 67, and Justin Suh of San Jose and USC, who birdied the first three holes on his way to a 68.
Said Van Rooyen: “There was no wind this morning and I played well on the front, nine, but the wind picked up on the back, and although I still played well, even though I didn’t make as many putts. I’ve struggled in the last few years, but it’s nice to have my game back on track.”
Patton Kizzire, who won this event in 2017 for one of his five professional victories, eagled the first hole and added seven birdies in a bogey-free 63 and is four strokes behind in a tie for seventh with Scott Piercy, who made the last of his six birdies on No. 18 in a 67; Michael Kim of San Diego and Cal, who made three birdies on the first seven holes in a 68; Carson Young, who made three birdies on each in another 68, and Kramer Hickock, who had four birdies and a single bogey in a 69.
Cameron Percy of Australia, the first-round leader at 62, birdied two of the last three holes for a 70 and is tied for 21st.
This is the first PGA Tour event played on a course designed by Tiger Woods, who was on hand to watch the action after finishing work on the course in 2014.
For complete results and final-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard