(Reuters) – Matt Kuchar, seeking his first PGA Tour win in four years, grabbed a four-stroke lead with a tournament-record performance for three rounds at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico on Saturday.
Kuchar shot 65 off seven birdies as he dipped to 20-under-par 193, a career best for 54 holes, at the El Camaleon in Playa del Carmen.
“I can’t imagine doing better through 54 holes,” said Kuchar. “I did think about it today that it would be nice to get to 7-under to match my first two rounds. … I’ve felt really, really good for three days.”
South Korean Whee Kim held second on 197 after a five-under 66 with American Richy Werenski and New Zealand’s Danny Lee a stroke back. Both shot 67s.
Cameron Champ, who had trailed Kuchar by two strokes after the second round, had his day spoiled by a double-bogey at the last as he shot a two-under 69.
That dropped him into a tie for fifth at 14-under 199 with fellow rookie Aaron Wise (63) and J.J. Spaun (65).
Kuchar, after back-to-back 64s, made sure he stayed in front with four birdies in his first eight holes. He got to six under with consecutive birdies at the 12th and 13th holes.
A wayward drive to the right at the next hole, the par-four 14th, left Kuchar in the rough.
After taking a penalty shot, he managed to get up-and-down to salvage a bogey.
The American, whose last PGA Tour win came in April 2014 at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, rebounded with a birdie at 15, then closed out the round with three consecutive pars.
That put him two shots under the previous tournament 54-hole record of 195 shared by Fred Funk in 2007 and Brian Gay in 2008.
Whee also birdied the 15th, his fifth of the day in a bogey-free round. His 54-hole score also was a career best on the PGA Tour.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; editing by Clare Fallon)