After his second-round 62 on Friday, the Cameron Champ hype train was running at warp speed, destroying everything in its path as he headed to the weekend in contention once again. Could he really win two of his first first four starts as a US PGA Tour member? Was the “Champ Era” officially about to begin? Matt Kuchar was having none of that in the third round in Mexico.
The four-time tour winner took back control of the Mayakoba Golf Classic from the outset, making birdies on four of his first eight holes at El Camaleon Golf Club to place himself alone atop the leaderboard. But to feel a little safer heading into Sunday, he was going to need a strong back nine, which he produced with a two-under 33 that featured three birdies and his only bogey of the day at the par-4 14th. It all added up to a third-round 65 to go with a pair of 64s, putting him at 20-under 193, which sets the 54-hole tournament record for the event. He leads by four as he looks to break a nearly five-year PGA Tour win drought, his last coming in the RBC Heritage in April 2014 (Kuchar did win the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Fiji International in October 2015).
As for Champ, who played alongside Kuchar in round three, he stood on the 18th tee at 16-under, four off the lead and in need of a par to finish off a third-round 67. After hitting his third shot through the green, Champ flubbed a chip, then three-putted for a disastrous double-bogey, giving him a two-under 69 to fall six off the lead through 54 holes.
The man closest to Kuchar is South Korea’s Whee Kim, who fired a five-under 66 to get in the clubhouse at 16-under 197. Richy Werenski and New Zealand’s Danny Lee are tied for third at 15-under, while Aaron Wise and J.J. Spaun joined Champ at 14-under.