Saturday 24 March 2018

Kuchar in control

Matt Kuchar is in pole position to win the Memorial Tournament (AP)
Matt Kuchar is in pole position to win the Memorial Tournament (AP)

Matt Kuchar will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Memorial Tournament on a testing day of golf which saw defending champion Tiger Woods card the worst nine-hole score of his professional career.

On another blustery day at Muirfield Village in Ohio, Kuchar carded his second successive two-under-par round of 70 to move to eight under for the competition as he chases his second title of the year.

The 34-year-old, who also finished second at Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last time out, has daylight between himself and nearest challengers Kevin Chappell and Kyle Stanley, who are both six under following hugely contrasting rounds.

Chappell drained five birdies and dropped only one shot as he went round in 68 - the joint best score of the day along with JJ Henry - while Stanley scored 73 with five bogeys, two birdies and an eagle.

England's Justin Rose, who won the Memorial in 2010, is the leading European after following up two rounds of 70 with a 71 to lie in joint fourth spot alongside Australian Matt Jones (70) and overnight pacesetter Bill Haas on five under.

Haas, who had seen his three-shot lead cut back to one when Charl Schwartzel completed his rain-affected second round, struggled badly as he picked up five bogeys and just one birdie in a round of 76 - the same as Schwartzel, who is four under overall.

Those two were not the only players to find it difficult though, with world number one Woods finding himself in the limelight for unwanted reasons after a nightmare round of 79 - the joint-second highest of his career.

Starting on the back nine, Woods carded double-bogeys on the 12th and 15th, a bogey on the 17th and then a treble-bogey seven on the 18th to reach the turn in an incredible eight over par, leaving him nine over for the competition and in last place overall.

The 14-time major winner tried to fight back on the inward nine with three birdies in five holes but further dropped shots at the sixth and ninth - his last - left him in the bottom five heading into the final round. Of some consolation to the reigning champion is that he did at least manage to avoid his highest round of his PGA Tour career, which was the 81 he shot at the 2002 British Open.

World number two Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, was also well down the leaderboard after a 75 left him six over for the tournament. The Northern Irishman had earlier completed his second round with a four-under-par 69 to survive the cut, which was made at three over.

Press Association

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