Matt Kuchar shot a bogey-free 4-under 66 on Saturday and will head into the final round of the Sony Open with a two-shot advantage.
The 40-year old Georgia Tech product finished his third day at Waialae Country Club with four birdies en route to a three-day total of 18-under par.
Kuchar’s card was highlighted by three gains in a six-hole stretch (Nos. 7, 9, and 12) to pull clear of Andrew Putnam, who had tied for the top spot after reeling off three gains in his first five holes.
“It was good steady golf. I was pleased pretty much — it felt good. It felt easy out there. Didn’t find myself in hardly any trouble; 17th was about it. Thought I hit a great shot. Ended up in the bunker. It was a really tough hole. Awfully glad to save par and keep the scorecard clean,” said Kuchar, who will be aiming for PGA Tour win No. 9 on Sunday.
“A little disappointed to finish a with par on 18. Other than that, good, steady golf. Awfully pleased.”
Two back was Putnam, who after birdies on Nos. 1, 4, and 5, played to even-par the rest of the way (two more birdies against two bogeys), signing for a 3-under 67, good for solo second on 16-under par.
Putnam has held the second spot after each of the opening three rounds, and will be paired with Kuchar on Sunday.
“You know, Kuch is playing well, so I feel like I’ve got to get out there and make some birdies if it’s not too windy,” said Putnam, 29, who secured his first career Tour victory at last season’s Barracuda Championship, an opposite-field event.
“If it’s like today it’s going to be scorable; have to to stay aggressive.”
Chez Reavie posted a 66 to sit T3 on 14-under par alongside Keith Mitchell, who fired a 63 to share low-round honors with Bryson DeChambeau and Emiliano Grillo.
Davis Love III, the 54-year old Hall of Famer, shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday, and was among a logjam of eight players tied at 11-under par. Other headliners in the T5 group include three of this season’s winners in DeChambeau (63), Charles Howell III (64), Marc Leishman (68).
Justin Thomas, the tournament favorite, shot 67 and is 10 shots off the pace at 8-under par, good for T21. Thomas is a long shot to win, but heavy money was placed on him to finish in the top 10, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
2019 SONY OPEN IN HAWAII
TOP 5 LEADERS: ROUND THREE
1. Matt Kuchar -18 (-4)
2. Andrew Putnam -16 (-3)
3. Keith Mitchell -14 (-7)
3. Chez Reavie -14 (-4)
5. Bryson DeChambeau -11 (-7)
5. Corey Conners -11 (-6)
5. Davis Love III -11 (-6)
5. Charles Howell III -11 (-6)
5. Dominic Bozzelli -11 (-6)
5. Hudson Swafford -11 (-3)
5. Ted Potter Jr. -11 (-2)
5. Marc Leishman -11 (-2)
STAT LEADERS: ROUND THREE
Driving: Roger Sloan – 320.4 yards (-10, T14)
Fairways: Abraham Ancer – 35/42, 83.3% (-8, T21)
Greens: Rikuya Hoshino – 45/54, 83.3% (-3, T63)
Putting: Chez Reavie – 1.512 (-14, T3)
Eagles: Chez Reavie – 3
Birdies: Andrew Putnam – 19 (-16, 2ND)
VIDEO: ROUND-3 HIGHLIGHTS
“Yeah, (winning again) would be amazing for me. I mean, it would be two out of three PGA Tour starts for me. It’s a longer gap, but any time you find the winner’s circle it’s a real thrill. To do it twice in a year, two out of three tournaments, would be amazing. Trust me. Find the winner’s circle once and it’s a real thrill.”
– Matt Kuchar