Matt Kuchar had another rough hole and enough birdies to atone for it Saturday, posting a 6-under 65 to open a four-shot lead in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Kuchar hit a wild drive to the right into mangroves on the par-4 14th and had to get up-and-down to salvage a bogey. That was the only big mistake for Kuchar, who is going after his first PGA Tour title in more than four years.
He saved par from just off the green at the 18th to finish at 20-under 193, four shots ahead of Whee Kim, who had a 66.
It matches the largest 54-hole lead of Kuchar’s career. He also led by four at the Houston Open in 2014, when he wound up losing to Matt Jones in a playoff.
Richy Werenski and Danny Lee each shot 67 and were five shots back, followed by a group that included PGA Tour rookie of the year Aaron Wise (63) and Cameron Champ (69). Champ, who played in the final group with Kuchar and Lee, already won this season at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Kuchar has been piling up birdies at El Camaleon Golf Club, and he began to pull away with four birdies on the front nine. 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, and 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 5 feet and made the bogey putt.
Kuchar responded with a tee shot to 4 feet on the par-3 15th to restore his margin to four shots, and he caught a break on the last hole when he pulled his approach, but it struck a tree and came down in light rough to set up a simple up-and-down.
Champ was trying to get into the final group for Sunday with a par on the last hole, but his wedge came out hot from the rough and rolled through the green, his chip came out heavy and he three-putted for double bogey.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. shot a 68 and was seven shots back at 13-under 200.
Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk had a 66 and was at 13-under 200 with Anirban Lahiri of India, who was tied with Kuchar early on the front line and still in the mix until a double bogey on the 14th hole and a bogey on the 16th. He had to settle for a 69.
Kuchar’s last PGA Tour victory was at Hilton Head in 2014. He won the Fiji International with his dad caddying for him late in 2015, but struggled to contend this year and failed to reach the third FedEx Cup playoff event for the first time in nearly a decade. He also did not make the Ryder Cup team for the first time in 10 years.