Matt Kuchar
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The Roundup

Roundup: Kuchar tightens grip

Updated On: January 13, 2019, 5:07 am ET

Recap of the day


Plenty of early moves with plenty of 65s and 66s carded by the early starters. So much so, in fact, that Roger Sloan shot his 66 and lost two places on the leaderboard. Four men – Davis Love III, Charles Howell III, Dominic Bozzelli and Brian Stuard – blasted 64 to join a nine-way tie on 11-under. That number also includes Bryson DeChambeau who burst into outside contention with a 63. Keith Mitchell equalled that and he shared third with Chez Reavie (66), three clear of that pack on 14-under. Andrew Putnam’s 67 leaves him two behind the leader Matt Kuchar, whose 66 left him on 18-under 192. 


Leaderboard: -18 Matt Kuchar, -16 Andrew Putnam, -14 Keith Mitchell, Chez Reavie, -11 Bryson DeChambeau, Corey Connors, Davis Love IIICharles Howell III, Dominic Bozzelli, Brian Stuard, Hudson Swafford, Ted Potter Jr., Marc Leishman


Notables: -8 Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, -4 Kevin Kisner, +3 Gary Woodland (MDF)



Low round of the day: Emiliano Grillo, Bryson DeChambeau, Keith Mitchell with 63


Revised outright betting: Kuchar 1/2, Putnam 10/3, Reavie 12/1, Mitchell 16/1, DeChambeau 66/1, Leishman 66/1



Sunday weather forecast


Partly cloudy, temperatures in the mid 70s, very slight chance of rain, wind predicted to be 8mph.



Leaders after at 54 holes


Matt Kuchar (66, 192) – After his two 63s the pace was down, but that was kind of inevitable. He did what was required. Missed two greens, made no errors and ticked four birdies.


Andrew Putnam (67, 194) – Numbers down on pre-cut: 50.00% fairways against 54.76% for the week, 72.22% greens in regulation versus 75.93% for 54 holes, SG Putting 1.812 yet 3.569 for the week. Remains in great shape however.


Keith Mitchell (63, 196) – Missed just two greens in regulation and holed a lot of putts, but nothing too sensational (SG: Putting 1.268). 


Chez Reavie (66, 196) – Smoothed his way to the turn with five unanswered birdies, but hit a sticky patch on the back nine, making three bogeys in a row and could get only two of the shots back.



Fate of the Favourites


Justin Thomas (67, 202) – Just six fairways on Saturday and has found only half of them through 54 holes. Having struggles on the greens too (-0.204 SG: Putting for the week).


Bryson DeChambeau (63, 199) - His SG: Putting in this eight-birdie march was just 0.791 but SG: Approach to the Green was 3.900, easily his best of the week.


Gary Woodland (76, 213) – Six bogeys and not one par breaker in a lap that led to MDF.


Jordan Spieth – missed the cut 





Matt Kuchar (66) - “The state of my game has felt similar (to the win in Mexico). I've felt very much in control of what I've been doing with the golf ball. It's so crucial here, particularly off the tee. If you somehow miss fairways, even with shots to the green, it's so hard to get close. You're really hoping for par when you miss fairways. There are certainly enough doglegs left here, which aren't my favorite.”


Kuchar on being in contention: “It's not often you get in a final group Sunday afternoon. I tell people a lot of nerves that happen in golf you start getting used to. It’s kind of like public speaking. The more often you do it the better you deal with it. They may always be there, but you get more comfortable with it.”


Andrew Putnam (67) - “Didn't feel as easy as the first two days. Still played a good round. Still got a chance. Kuch is playing well, so I I've got to get out there and make some birdies if it's not too windy, have to to stay aggressive.”


Keith Mitchell (63) - “I hit it great yesterday and continued it today. Just trying to get a little bit more relaxed on those putts. You can really over-read these things with the ocean and the grain and the break.”


Bryon DeChambeau (63) - “I was working on the greens until 7:20 last night. It was dark. Yeah, we had lights out there. I wasn't going to leave until I figured it out. Every week I feel like I can be right up there close to the lead now. All the adjustments that we're making, I really believe that it can only get better if I keep healthy.”



Road to Victory at Waialae


2018 Patton Kizzire – R1: 20th, R2: 7th, R3: 2nd

2017 Justin Thomas – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2016 Fabian Gomez – R1: 68th, R2: 15th, R3: 5th 

2015 Jimmy Walker – R1: 12th, R2: 8th, R3: 1st

2014 Jimmy Walker – R1: 5th, R2: 5th, R3: 4th 


Notes: Every single winner in the 21st century has been T6 or better after 54 holes and only two of them (Gomez in 2016 and Vijay Singh in 2005, both of them four back) were not within two shots of the lead at this stage.



Fate of the 54-hole Leaders at Waialae - where did they finish?


2018 – Tom Hoge 3rd

2017 – Justin Thomas 1st

2016 – Brandt Snedeker 2nd, Zac Blair 3rd

2015 – Jimmy Walker 1st

2014 – Chris Kirk 2nd


Notes: There have been 25 solo or shared 54-hole leaders at Waialae in the 21st century and 11 have claimed the win.



Focus on – Waialae winner tends to go low 


Last year Kizzire carded a final round 2-under-par 68 on his way to victory and it’s possible that Kuchar or Putnam could repeat that, but prior to last year the winner needed to blitz the course to triumph over the field. Russell Henley (2013) and Jimmy Walker (twice, in 2014 and 2015) thrashed fourth round 63s to win, Fabian Gomez went one better in 2017 and Justin Thomas was a relative lightweight with his 65 in 2017 (but he had started the lap with a seven shot lead).



Focus on – Kuchar with a 54-hole lead


This is the 11th time in his career that the 40-year-old has found himself alone or sharing a lead with 18 holes to play. The first two times were on the Nationwide ( Tour, both solo leads, both times he failed to convert. He also owned the lead in the 2015 Fiji International and grabbed the win, albeit against a weak field. In his seven PGA Tour leads he had three wins, most recently when he led the Mayakoba Golf Classic by four and hung on by one. It was not his first four-swing 54-hole lead. The first was in the 2014 Houston Open which he lost and was defeated in a play-off.



Focus on – Putnam in contention


Still relatively inexperienced at this level he needs to be given some leeway, but other than his win in last year’s Barracuda Championship he’s been a little wobbly. That time he led by three going into the final lap and moved away from the field. But  when he’s been chasing a leader he is yet to push on. At the 2014 McGladrey Classic he went from T4 to T12 on Sunday, in the 2018 (pairs) from T3 to T15, at the 2018 St Jude Classic a final lap 72 lost him a share of the lead, and the same number in the HSBC Champions saw him fail to mount a challenge.


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