Saturday's roundup: Matt Kuchar stumbles, gives up lead
La Quinta, Calif. — Matt Kuchar stumbled late in the third round of the Humana Challenge, handing the lead to Erik Compton, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam.
Two strokes ahead after a birdie on the par-5 14th, Kuchar bogeyed three of the final four holes Saturday for a 1-under 71 on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course.
"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-time heart transplant recipient 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.
Kuchar was a stroke back along with Ryan Palmer, Scott Pinckney and Steve Wheatcroft.
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.
"Just nearly an impossible up-and-down if you miss the green right," Kuchar said.
Kuchar bogeyed the par-3 17th after his tee shot went right, bounced sideways off the rocks at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains and raced across the green into the All-American Canal.
"With a pitching wedge, you're looking to hit a good shot," Kuchar said. "Unfortunately, I let it hang too much and it caught a rock and went in the water."
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 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."
On the final day of the pro-am competition, Compton played in a group with amputee Chad Pfeifer and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bud Norris. Pfeifer lost his left leg in Iraq.
"On the third hole, he said, 'Hey, listen, you know, you really inspired me learning about your story,'" Compton said. "And I'm kind of speechless, because I see him with a huge adversity that he's gone through and it speaks volumes."
Haas is making his first start since November. He took the long break to rest his left wrist, injured when he fell down stairs at Hilton Head.
"So far, something to build on, but I also know in the back of my head I don't think I'm a hundred percent," Haas said. "So, I'll go on the range and work on it. I just got to stay in the moment and try not to hit too many foul balls tomorrow."
Thomas birdied two of the last three holes. The 21-year-old former Alabama player hit a 91-yard shot to a foot for birdie on the par- 4 16th and two-putted for birdie on the 18.
"I'm pleased where I'm at going into tomorrow," Thomas said.
Palmer followed his 61 on Friday on the Nicklaus course with a 68 on the Palmer layout. Wheatcroft had a 68 on the Nicklaus course, and Pinckney shot 69 in the Palmer.
Phil Mickelson was 11 under in his first start since the Ryder Cup in September. He had eight birdies and four bogeys in a 68 on the Palmer course.
Miguel Angel Jimenez shot an 8-under 64 in windy conditions Saturday for a share of the lead with Rocco Mediate in the Champions Tour's season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Jimenez had nine birdies and a closing bogey to match Mediate at 11-under 133 at Hualalai Golf Club in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii. Mediate, the first-round leader after a 66, had a bogey-free 67.
Jimenez is making his third Champions Tour start. The Spaniard won the Greater Gwinnett Championship last year, a week after finishing fourth in the Masters. In May, he won the Spanish Open at 50 years, 133 days to break his own record as the oldest European Tour champion.
Mediate won twice on the 50-and over tour in 2013.
Olin Browne was third at 9 under after a 67. Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and Mark O'Meara were another stroke back. Couples shot 64, Montgomerie 66, and O'Meara 67.
Branden Grace made a decisive eagle on the 16th to win the Qatar Masters on Saturday by one stroke and clinch his sixth European Tour title.
The South African shot a final round 6-under 66 for an overall 19-under 269 to hold off runner-up Marc Warren (67) of Scotland.