Kuchar shoots 64, edges ahead at Humana Challenge


Matt Kuchar tied for third last week in Hawaii, but he appears eager to improve upon that result this week in Palm Springs. Here's how things look after two rounds at the Humana Challenge, where Kuchar holds a one-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Matt Kuchar (-15), Bill Haas (-14), Michael Putnam (-14), Nick Watney (-13), Justin Thomas (-13), Scott Pinckney (-13), Ryan Palmer (-12), Erik Compton (-12)

What it means: Kuchar has five straight top-25 finishes in the California desert, and No. 6 looks like a sure thing after rounds of 65-64. His lead is a slim one, though, as 2010 Humana champ Haas is in close pursuit, as is Putnam, who led after the opening round and eyes his first win.

Round of the day: Palmer had the "59 Watch" firing on all cylinders after he made the turn in 27, and at one point he had a stretch of eight holes in which he was 10 under. Dreams of a sub-60 round were derailed by a pair of back-nine bogeys, but he still was able to shoot an 11-under 61 at the Nicklaus Private course, matching the course record and racing up the leaderboard in the process.

Best of the rest: Haas notched his first win at this event five years ago, and he also lost in a playoff the following year. So a spot on the Humana leaderboard is a familiar position, and one that he again holds after a 9-under 63 at La Quinta Country Club. Haas began slowly with seven straight pars but then played the subsequent 10 holes in 9 under, with a stretch of seven birdies in a row.

Biggest disappointment: Mark Wilson was among the early leaders after an opening 64, but a 1-over 73 at the Palmer Private dropped him well off the pace. Wilson, the Humana champion from 2012, managed only three birdies during the second round and, at 7 under, he now trails Kuchar by eight shots heading into the weekend.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: The scores will surely remain low in Round 3, but the player to watch will be Kuchar, as he looks to win this event after a number of recent close calls. Haas will likely keep pace, but a name to watch from the chase pack could be Thomas, a 21-year-old rookie who shot a 63 Friday and who last week shot a 61 en route to a T-6 finish at the Sony Open.

Quote of the day: "The fun thing about the game of golf is the challenge it provides. There is an endless quest to get better." - Kuchar