GOLF ROUNDUP: Kuchar hopes to atone for last week
HUMBLE, Texas — Matt Kuchar didn’t have the result he had hoped for while playing in the final pairing at last week’s Texas Open.
The six-time PGA Tour winner, who closed with a final-round 75 on his way to a fourth-place finish last week, will have the opportunity to show what he learned from that disappointing finish at this week’s Houston Open.
Playing in the final pairing, Kuchar vaulted past a struggling Sergio Garcia with a 4-under par 68 on Saturday — overcoming windy conditions at the Golf Club of Houston to match the low round of the day and take a four-shot lead after three rounds.
Kuchar stands at 15 under overall heading into today’s final round, four shots ahead of second-round leader Garcia and Cameron Tringale. The three will be paired together today.
“It’s a nice position to have played well last week, to have been in the last group with a chance to win and again to come back this week, completely different course, and have another shot to win,” Kuchar said.
Kuchar’s last win came at the Memorial last year, and he has eight top 10 finishes this season in 10 events.
He’ll have the opportunity add to that resume on today, weather permitting, as well as fuel his surging confidence leading into next week’s Masters, where he finished in a tie for eighth last year.
The golfers went off both tees in threesomes early Saturday morning in anticipation of severe weather in the evening, a format they’ll use again today with hopes of avoiding a Monday finish leading into next week’s visit to Augusta National.
Garcia, who surged ahead with a 7-under 65 on Friday, began the day with a one-shot lead over Kuchar. That disappeared quickly after the Spaniard bogeyed the first to fall back to 11 under and into a tie with his playing partner, Kuchar.
That was just the beginning of the struggles for Garcia, who finished with a 1-over 73 after matching the course’s low mark of 12 under after two rounds.
Kuchar, meanwhile, birdied the first to move into the lead — a spot he didn’t relinquish. He added back-to-back birdies on No. 4 and 5 to move to 14 under, and he added three birdies in a row on the back nine.
Phil Mickelson, after withdrawing from last week’s Texas Open with a muscle pull in his right side, was inconsistent from the opening hole Saturday. The five-time major winner settled for an even-par 72 — leaving him in a tie for eighth at 6 under.
Fowler matched Kuchar’s low round in Saturday’s chilly conditions, posting a 4-under 68.
LPGA: Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson topped the Kraft Nabisco leaderboard, setting up a possible final-round showdown the LPGA Tour has been waiting for.
The 24-year-old Wie shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 on Saturday to match Thomson at 10-under 206 at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in the first major championship of the year.
The 19-year-old Thompson settled for a 69 after driving into a fairway bunker and missing a 3-foot par putt on the par-5 18th. She also missed two short birdie putts.
Charley Hull, the Englishwoman who turned 18 last month, was two strokes back along with five-time major champion Se Ri Pak. Hull had a 66, the best round of the day.