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Kuchar grabs 4-shot advantage at Shell Houston Open

Third Round – PGA Tour – Shell Houston Open – Golf Club of Houston – Humble, Texas –

Paired with Sergio Garcia in the final pairing Saturday, Matt Kuchar made birdie on the first hole opposite his opponent’s bogey for a two-shot swing and he never looked back.

Kuchar finished with a 4-under-68 to reach 15-under overall at the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open. The World No. 11 sits four shots ahead of Garcia and Cameron Tringale heading into the final round at the Golf Club of Houston. Matt Jones is 9-under, but the rest of the field would appear too far back for a comeback victory.

Jones has three Top 15s this season, but sits six shots back of Kuchar.

Kuchar, a 25-to-1 betting pick at Ladbrokes.com heading into the tournament, was in the mix last week at the Valero Texas Open before falling short of victory. The 14-year professional rallied with birdies at 12-13-14 to extend his lead, but a late bogey at the 18th could perhaps give the competition some hope.

Keep in mind the 54-hole has struggled much of this season with high-profile players including Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy failing to close the deal.

Being 15th on the PGA Tour in Scrambling, Kuchar should be able to keep it together with a four-shot advantage in this spot.

Tour officials are worried about poor weather Sunday and do not want a Monday finish up against Masters week. The competitors played Saturday as “lift, clean and place.”

Tee times have been pushed forward. Players will tee off in threesomes (a change of pace could hurt Kuchar) off split tees. The final group tees at 7:30 a.m. local time.

Other Golf News:

  • Jones was a 100-1 pick heading into Houston. The Aussie was 48th on the PGA Tour Money List a season ago and ranked 13th in the All-Around category.
  • Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson – both 10-under – are co-leaders heading LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco Championship. Both are looking for their first major championship. Charley Hull of England and South Korea’s Se Ri Pak are 8-under with Cristie Kerr and Catriona Matthew four back.
  • Rickie Fowler matched Kuchar’s low round of the day Saturday in Houston with a bogey-free 68. He is T-5 alongside former Open champion Ben Curtis. Curtis’ last Top 10 was the 2012 Players Championship (won by Kuchar).