Matt Kuchar finished up his second round on Saturday morning at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, then fired a one-under 69 to get to 11-under through 54 holes. That gives Kuchar a one-stroke lead over four others, headlined by Boo Weekley.
Inclement weather forced play to be suspended near the end of Round 2, which is what caused Kuchar and others to wake up extremely early to finish up. After polishing off his second consecutive 65, the veteran proceeded to battle various competitors throughout the day and ultimately maintained his lead.
Below is an overview of the logjam at the top of the leaderboard entering Sunday's final-round action at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. For complete scores, head over to PGA.com.
|1||Matt Kuchar ||65-65-69 ||-11|
|T2 ||Matt Every ||65-69-66||-10|
|T2||Boo Weekley ||67-67-66||-10|
|T6||Martin Flores ||66-70-65||-9|
|T6||Tim Clark ||67-69-65 ||-9 |
|T10||Zach Johnson ||67-69-66||-8|
Note: All statistics, videos and other information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATour.com.
An opening birdie at the par-five first hole got Kuchar off to an ideal start, but he dropped consecutive shots at Nos. 7 and 8 to lose the lead to Graham DeLaet.
However, Kuchar bounced back with a birdie at No. 11, a par five. A beautiful tee shot at the par-three 16th broke Kuchar out of the pack of players tied for the lead when he drained the 11-foot putt thereafter:
In one of the more bizarre coincidences that come to mind in recent memory, all four players who sit a stroke off the leading pace birdied No. 18.
Perhaps the most impressive of the bunch was Chris Stroud, whose rather disappointing approach only turned up the drama when he drained a beautiful uphill putt four a three-under 67:
As mentioned before, the Canadian DeLaet—who bombs the ball and hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation—got as low as minus-12, but dropped three shots in his next six holes. That was followed by a brilliantly played final hole alongside Kuchar, when DeLaet stuffed it to five-and-a-half feet and got back to under-par for the day.
Matt Every is also in the thick of the hunt after a solid 66. He is searching for his maiden Tour win along with DeLaet and Stroud.
Weekley's putter has let him down in recent years, but in dropping this 40-footer at the par-four 12th, he was showing no ill effects:
PGATour.com's Amanda Balionis documented the gallery reaction:
Between the boos for Boo Weekley and the "Kuuuuch!" drones for Matt Kuchar, this is going to be a fun Sunday in Fort Worth.
Let's take a look at some of the other key developments that occurred in Round 3, and the ramifications they might have over the final 18 holes.
Jordan Spieth Sinks Down Leaderboard
Birdies at three of his first five holes put the 19-year-old Texan atop the field, but it only got worse from there. Bogeys at Nos. 6 and 9 put a damper on the hot start to Jordan Spieth's front nine.
By capitalizing on the par-five 11th with a birdie, Spieth looked to be rallying back at two-under for the afternoon:
Unfortunately, that was followed by a dropped shot at the next hole, then Spieth hit his approach to the par-three 13th into the water short of the green, leading to a double bogey. Another bogey at 15 was remedied by a birdie at the closing hole, showing that Spieth had the fortitude to rally after a tough stretch.
Being four shots off the pace was certainly not what Spieth could have envisioned when he had his strong run early on Saturday. It's not exactly the worst position to be in, though.
Due to the tight nature of the tournament, those near the top will be jockeying to hold on to their positions, while players like Spieth can fire willingly at flags in an effort to apply pressure and make up ground.
Defending Champion Still in Hunt
Zach Johnson has won this event twice in the past three years, including in 2012. The opportunity to grab the coveted tartan plaid jacket at Colonial is presenting itself yet again, as Johnson sits just three strokes back at minus-eight.
This place is dubbed "Hogan's Alley" for a reason—Ben Hogan won the tournament a record five times, while Johnson and a select few are knotted with two titles apiece.
In winning his third, Johnson could make unique history in connection with Hogan, as Golf Channel's Randall Mell observes:
The precise iron game and control off the tee allow Johnson to always be a factor at this venue, because it simply suits his style so well.
It could result in yet another triumph Sunday, which would be absolutely huge to get Johnson's 2013 campaign kick-started. Johnson has yet to register a top-10 finish this season, but appears destined to do that now.
Steve Flesch in Fine Form
The 2004 champion of this event, as surprising as it might be, has won just one fewer PGA tournament than Kuchar has.
Steve Flesch spends most of his time as an analyst for Golf Channel these days and had only played twice all season entering this event. Shane Bacon of Yahoo! points out how long it's been since Flesch had any tangible success on the Tour:
At 46 years old, the veteran is on the back end of his career on golf's top circuit, but he still has plenty left in the tank.
With past success and plenty of knowledge and experience of Colonial's layout, the lefty should be able to weather the stress of contention better than most.
It helps that a lot of those closest to Kuchar haven't won on Tour before, but it will be up to Flesch to overcome stalwart, consistent players such as the leader and Johnson.