“This morning feels like a day ago,” the former Georgia Tech golfer said. “It’s hard to believe it’s the same day.”
After making a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th hole, the same place where his day began at 7:13 a.m. to finish the suspended second round, Kuchar had two nifty par-savers to finish 1-under- par 69 in the third round.
He is at 11-under 199, one ahead of Graham DeLaet, Boo Weekley, Chris Stroud and Matt Every.
When the second round was suspended Friday night because of an approaching storm, Kuchar had just hit his tee shot at the par-3 16th. He resumed there early Saturday with a two-putt from about 40 feet. That was part of three quick pars to keep his one-stroke lead.
Kuchar made his go-ahead stroke in the third round at No. 16 – after falling behind by as many as two strokes – before his approach shot at the 379-yard 17th landed in a greenside bunker. He blasted to 13 feet and saved par before hooking his tee shot at No. 18 into the left rough. He found more tall grass near the green with his second shot before pitching inside 3 feet.
“To not give away a stroke and maintain a one-shot lead is a good position to be in. Everybody has got to come get me,” Kuchar said. “Not only a bunch of players, but a bunch of good players up there. ... I’m looking forward to having the lead and seeing if I can maintain it, and my goal will be to grow the lead.”
Twelve players are within three strokes of the lead.
That dozen includes defending champion Zach Johnson, who had 68 and is three back.
Weekley, even with problems maintaining focus in his left eye, and Every shot third-round 66s. Stroud had 67 and DeLaet, playing with Kuchar, had 69.
Kuchar won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February, and will try today to join Tiger Woods as the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this season.
Kuchar is a five-time winner, but never has won twice in the same season.
Weekley, who has won twice but not since 2008, had gotten to 10 under during his second round Friday when he made consecutive birdies after making his turn. But he had a late four-hole stretch with a double bogey and two bogeys. He was back at 10 under Saturday with consecutive birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, and was still there after an up-and-down finish.
“When we got done playing (Friday), I went out to the range and practiced a little bit and focused back on what we are here to do , and that’s win and play the best we can,” Weekley said.
There was a bogey at the 14th when he missed the fairway with his tee shot and the green with his approach, but he made a 6-foot birdie at No. 15. He missed a 5-foot par chance at No. 16, but finished with a birdie after his approach inside 3 feet at the closing hole.
After having problems reading greens in recent tournaments, Weekley this week went to doctor to have his left eye checked. But he still hasn’t found out what the problem is.
“I get like a real bad twitch when I’m trying to focus on something, especially staring down on the ball,” Weekley said. “It’s happened, I’d say probably 15-20 times so far this week.”
Even with that problem, he’s still got a chance to win.