Recap of the day
The Matt Kuchar show continued. After a pair of 64s to open, the World No. 40 kept on the front foot with a six-under 65 today to double his overnight lead from two to four. His nearest rival now is Whee Kim (66) while Richy Werenski and Danny Lee both came in with 67s to sit five back. Perhaps one of the most significant moments of the day came at 18. Kuchar and recent Sanderson Farms winner Cameron Champ (62 yesterday) both missed the green with loose approaches. Champ chunked his chip and three-putted for double; Kuchar expertly got up and down for par. Arguably, Kuchar’s biggest rival for victory tomorrow may just have shot himself in in the foot. Champ now sits six back alongside J.J. Spaun and Aaron Wise.
Leaderboard: -20 Matt Kuchar, -16 Whee Kim, -15 Richy Werenski, Danny Lee, -14 Aaron Wise, J.J. Spaun, Cameron Champ, -13 Brice Garnett, Jim Furyk, Emiliano Grillo, Abraham Ancer, Pat Perez, Adam Hadwin, Anirban Lahiri.
Low round of the day: 63 Aaron Wise
Revised outright betting: 4/9 Matt Kuchar, 9/1 Whee Kim, 12/1 Danny Lee, 20/1 Aaron Wise, Richy Werenski, 25/1 Cameron Champ, 33/1 J.J. Spaun, 40/1 Abraham Ancer, Emiliano Grillo, 50/1 Adam Hadwin, Tony Finau.
Sunday weather forecast
After three days of little wind, it could pick up a little in the early afternoon to around 12mph. More sunshine is forecast (temps in early 80s) but there’s a chance of a t-storm at 2pm.
Leaders after 18 holes
Matt Kuchar (65, 193) – Not quite as accurate off the tee (9 fairways) but hit 15 greens. Seven more birdies (22 for the week, ranked 1st) and, just as importantly, only two bogeys (T2).
Whee Kim (66, 197) – That’s 13-under for the last 36 holes. Four birdies in five holes from the fifth but slowed coming home with just one circle and eight pars. Fifth for GIR this week after pelting 14 more today.
Richy Werenski (67, 198) – Flourished on the back nine when others stalled and will play in the final group. Missed five greens but ranks 1st for Scrambling this week (90.91%).
Danny Lee (67, 198) – A run of six birdies from Nos. 4-13 but 1-over for the final five. Nothing standing out in his stats so will need to do everything better to have a chance of reeling in Kuchar.
Fate of the favorites
Rickie Fowler (69, 203) – His round scores have climbed each day (66-68-69) when he needed it to be the other way around to keep pace with the leaders. Hit 16 greens today but the he’s ranked 45th in putting this week
Tony Finau (67, 201) – Climbed up to tied third after five birdies in his first 11 holes but was 1-over from that point and it leaves him a mountain to climb. An obvious flaw today – hitting just 7 GIRs. The wait for that long overdue second career win looks set to continue.
Jordan Spieth (140, MC) – He’s gone home. Hit just 6 (of 14) fairways and 10 greens in both rounds.
Matt Kuchar (65, 193): “I feel confident with what I’m doing with my golf swing. I feel confident how I’m hitting it, how I’m putting it.”
Richy Werenski (67, 198): “Pretty good today. I started off a little shaky (+1 thru’ 6) but I’m doing a pretty good job of staying patient out there and it’s kind of showing. I played a really good back nine (-4).”
Road to victory at El Camaleon
2017 Patton Kizzire – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Pat Perez – R1: 20th, R2: 11th, R3: 2nd
2015 Graeme McDowell – R1: 10th, R2: 1st, R3: 3rd
2014 Charley Hoffman – R1: 7th, R2: 9th, R3: 3rd
2013 Harris English – R1: 17th, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
Notes: The last five winners were all in the top three with 18 holes to play and 10 of the 11 champs were no worse than within three strokes of the lead after 54 holes. The one exception? John Huh in 2012 when he started Sunday T13 and seven back before shooting a final-round 63 and ousting Robert Allenby (who had doubled the last) in an epic eight-hole play-off.
Fate of the R3 leaders at El Camaleon
2017 Patton Kizzire 1st
2016 Gary Woodland 2nd
2015 Derek Fathauer 4th
2014 Jason Bohn 7th
2013 Robert Karlsson 6th
Notes: Kizzire was the first 54-hole leader in six years to convert when he shot a closing 67 to win by one. There’s actually been a very reliable pattern starting from 2009: third-round leaders who shoot in the 60s win (three from three); third-round leaders who shoot 70 or more don’t (seven out of seven). Simple for Kuchar then. Break 70 and it’s a done deal!
Focus on – Driving Distance v Driving Accuracy
Certain events on the calendar stand out as being ideal for the shorter hitter. With Fred Funk, Brian Gay and Mark Wilson winning the first three editions of the Mayakoba, this quickly became one of them. Graeme McDowell’s win in 2015 backed the idea up further. Take a look at the current leaderboard and it’s an idea that’s playing out once more. Here are the Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy rankings for the leading players so far. We’ll use 2017/18 figures as data is rather limited so far this season.
Matt Kuchar 169 DD, 78 DA
Whee Kim 178 DD, 99 DA
Richy Werenski 132 DD, 38 DA
Danny Lee 148 DD, 83 DA
Aaron Wise 40 DD, 70 DA
J.J. Spaun 82 DD, 31 DA
Cameron Champ N/A
Brice Garnett DD 91, 53 DA
Jim Furyk 190 DD, 10 DA
Emiliano Grillo 108 DD, 8 DA
Abraham Ancer 95 DD, 65 DA
Pat Perez 135 DD, 50 DA
Adam Hadwin 157 DD, 35 DA
Anirban Lahiri 114 DD, 117 DA
Of the above 13 players with stats, 11 ranked better for DA than DD. Nine players were outside the top 100 for Driving Distance while just one was outside the top 100 for Driving Accuracy. Averages you say? Driving Distance: 126, Driving Accuracy: 57. Point made.
Focus on – Matt Kuchar
In Thursday’s Roundup, we looked at Matt Kuchar’s top ten record and how last season he’d managed just four – his worst number since 2007. What we didn’t mention was wins. Seven PGA Tour titles is no mean feat despite the perception that he doesn’t win enough and from 2009 to 2014 he suffered just one winless season. But since the RBC Heritage over four-and-a-half years ago, he’s drawn a blank. Looking at his six strokeplay triumphs, Kuchar has won four from behind (1, 3, 4 and 5 strokes respectively) and was joint-leader after 54 in one. In other words, in the 40-year-old’s long career, only once has he led after 54 holes and emerged as the winner (2013 Memorial). Four times with the target on his back he’s come up short so Kuchar isn’t just coming out with platitudes by saying this isn’t over yet.