Matt Kuchar stumbles, gives away Humana Challenge lead


By John Nicholson ,AP

LA QUINTA, California — Matt Kuchar’s ball crashed into the rocks at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains and shot sideways into the All-American Canal.

More rocks and water gobbled up another ball �X and with it, his third-round lead on Saturday in the Humana Challenge.

��It’s too bad, but it’s what happened,�� Kuchar said. ��I still got one more day left to try to make some birdies and still pull this thing out.��

Two strokes ahead after a birdie on the par-5 14th, Kuchar bogeyed three of the final four holes for a 1-under 71 on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course. That left him a shot behind two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam.

The highest-ranked player in the field at No. 11, Kuchar lost a shot on the par-3 15th when he drove to the right, sent his second to the back edge and missed a 14-footer.

He bogeyed the par-3 17th after his tee shot went right, bounced off the mountain rocks and raced across the green into the canal.

The seven-time tour winner closed with another rocky bogey, ending his birdie-eagle string on the par 5s. On the first 12 pars 5 of the week, he had an eagle and 11 birdies.

On 18, his 235-yard approach sailed long and left into the rocks and water. After his ball rolled away on a penalty drop, he placed it deep in the dormant grass, blasted out to 8 feet and two-putted.

��I hit a great drive and was in between a 3- and 4-hybrid,�� Kuchar said. ��I went with a 3-hybrid, trying to get it back to the hole and hit a solid shot that just didn’t fade.��

Compton shot a 67 on the Jack Nicklaus Private Course to join Haas, Thomas and Putnam at 17-under 199. Haas, the 2010 winner, had a 69 on the Nicklaus layout. Thomas shot 68 on the Palmer course, and Putnam had a 69 at La Quinta Country Club.

Compton birdied three of his last five holes in breezy, warm conditions.

��I had a couple shots that were loose on the drives, but I salvaged the round,�� Compton said. ��Tomorrow’s a new day.��