PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Matt Kuchar shot 3-under 69 on Saturday at The Players Championship to trail leader Kevin Na by a shot on 11 under at TPC Sawgrass. The back nine of 1-under 35, however, was an uncharacteristic adventure for the PGA Tour's new leader in consistency.
The Georgia Tech product made just two pars on the back nine, outpacing bogeys with birdies by a 4-3 count.
'It seemed like it was a lot of back and forth,' said Kuchar, who now holds the Tour's longest active cuts-made streak at 17 tournaments.
The strange back nine began as Kuchar piped a drive 304 yards down and through the fairway at No. 10.
'That's not like me,' he said. 'I cut the corner and it just rolled. It was a hot ball.'
Kuchar made birdie at the 10th for his third in a row. He bogeyed the par-5 11th, bounced back with two birdies, then dropped another shot at 14 before his last birdie of the side at 15.
Despite failing to birdie the shortened par-5 16th, Kuchar arrived at the tee of the island-green 17th with the lead alone. It disappeared quickly, along with his ball, as he found the water with his approach.
'It was the right club,' he said. 'I knew with a good strike it was going to be good. I just mishit it and came up short in the water.'
From 72 yards in the drop zone, however, Kuchar got up and down for bogey. He made par at 18, recovering with a 12-foot putt after a poor approach with a wedge left him short-sided.
'It was not going to be a fun way to finish off a round,' he said. 'I was really excited to have that putt go in on 18.'