South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen was a stroke behind co-leaders Matt Kuchar and Camilo Villegas after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Tour’s WWT Championship.
Kuchar seized a six-stroke advantage before making a quadruple-bogey at the 15th hole on his way to firing a five-under-par 67 to match Colombian Villegas on 19-under 197 after 54 holes at Cardonal at Diamante in Los Cabos, Mexico.
“I saw a big lead go away but I feel awfully pleased at the state of my game,” Kuchar said. “It was a fun first 14. That 15th hole is one everybody has circled – this one could get you in trouble. That’s the only one I’d love to have back.”
Villegas birdied three of the last four holes to shoot 69 and grab his first share of a 54-hole PGA Tour lead since the 2010 Honda Classic.
“Nice birdie on 18 to finish the day. Didn’t hit it that sharp, missed a couple putts, but overall it wasn’t bad,” Villegas said. “It’s nice to see the work I’ve been doing the past year, which has been tough, a lot of swing changes, is paying off.”
Van Rooyen was third on 18-under 198 with Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes, with Americans Justin Suh and Will Gordon on 17-under 199.
Van Rooyen’s round of 66 included an eagle, five birdies and a bogey.
Kuchar torched the first Tiger Woods-designed course used for a PGA Tour event for an eagle and six birdies against a lone bogey for a seven-under 29 on the front nine.
The 45-year-old American reeled off three consecutive birdies starting at the 12th to grab a six-stroke edge before his disaster at 15, a bogey at 16 and two closing pars.
“This course has some trickiness to it,” Kuchar said. “But it’s golf. Every hole has the same value, the same importance to it. You can look at it multiple different ways.
“I shot five under today. I’m playing really good golf. I really like the state of my game. I’m pretty good at letting that stuff roll off my back and I’m going to do my best to let that one roll off my back and go try to play some good golf tomorrow.”
Playing partner Villegas, meanwhile, birdied 15 and 16 to match Kuchar for the lead, missed a four-foot par putt at 17 to fall one adrift, then sank his clutch closing birdie to pull level.
“Four bogeys so obviously not sharp,” Villegas said. “Made unbelievable birdies on 15 and 16 and what seemed like a runaway from Kuch, he stumbles there, and things got back on track for us chasing him.
“He had two bad holes. Other than that, he put on a show out there.”
Villegas took the most recent of his four PGA Tour titles in 2014 while Kuchar’s most recent of nine PGA triumphs came at the 2019 Sony Open.
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