Matt Kuchar was on 59 watch. Then he eviscerated his 6-shot lead in 2 holes

(L) Matt Kuchar reacts after a tee shot at the World Wide Technology Championship.

Matt Kuchar was cruising. Then golf happened.

NBC Sports/Getty Images

Matt Kuchar‘s third round at the World Wide Technology Championship couldn’t have started much better. But it couldn’t have finished much worse.

Kuchar, the 2018 winner of the WWTC, was on a heater early in Saturday’s round. On Tiger Woods’ El Cardonal Golf Course at Diamante, which had become a birdie-fest this week, the 45-year-old veteran eagled the par-5 1st and went out in 29 to surge into the lead.

By the time he reached the 15th hole, he was on another heater of three more birdies in a row to open up a six-shot lead at 24 under, 10 under for the day.

Then golf happened.

Kuchar’s tee shot on the 462-yard par-4 was pulled left and found an unmarked native area, forcing him to reload from the tee. It was only the second fairway he had missed all week.

His third was in the fairway on El Cardonal’s toughest hole Saturday, but his fourth found more trouble. With the pin tucked left and a large slope feeding down toward a penalty area, Kuchar’s approach missed left, leaving himself a difficult up-and-down look just to make a double bogey.

Kuchar pitched into the slope and watched his ball roll back and past him, into the penalty area. He laid 5 and his ball had yet to even visit the putting surface.

Now he was presented with an even tougher, sandy lie in the penalty area. The nine-time PGA Tour winner then debated taking a hybrid to scoot the ball through the sand and up the slope. He ended up playing a lower lofted wedge or short iron, but remember this in just a moment.

His sixth shot finally reached the putting surface, but not for long. It made a 180 along the slope of the green and made its way back down toward Kuchar once more, this time, settling in the flat where he played his fifth shot fun.

Finally, his seventh shot carried over the slope, checked and released to just a foot, where he was able to tap in for a momentum-killing 8.

Kuchar’s debacle was happening at the same time his closest pursuer, Will Gordon, was having his own problems on the 16th hole where he hit his tee shot into a penalty area and made a double.

The wind, which had been breathless for the first two and a half days of the event, was just picking up, something the NBC broadcasters mentioned that designer Tiger Woods said the course needed to play more difficult.

However, not everyone was feeling El Cardonal bite back. Erik Van Rooyen birdied 16 to replace Gordan at 18 under and Camilo Villegas, the second round leader, knocked his approach at 15 stiff and made the putt to get to 18 under as well. Playing with Kuchar, the four-time PGA Tour winner made up five shots in one hole.

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But Kuchar’s fall wasn’t over. On the par-3 16th, his tee shot came up short.

“Oh dear!” he exclaimed nearly immediately after the ball left the clubface.

His ball found the penalty area, narrowly avoiding disaster by hanging up in the longer grass on a steep slope.

That’s when he left the broadcast crew nearly speechless.

From the rough in the penalty area, Kuchar took out his hybrid again and began rehearsing to putt through the rough.

“I don’t know what to tell you about this,” analyst Aaron Oberholtzer said as he pulled the club. “You could easily just kind of play this like an explosion shot with your 60-degree if you’re that worried about [the lie].”

“I would have to think [his head] is racing a bit,” added Johnson Wagner. “This is not a shot that we practice at all.”

The attempt with the hybrid didn’t even get halfway up the green before it caught another slope and rolled back down into the penalty area, again stopping just before a massive drop-off.

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“I have never seen anything like this from Matt Kuchar,” Oberholtzer said.

As Kuchar went back for a wedge and set up for a third, he took a deep, audible breath.

His third flew nearly pin high and settled about 10 feet from the hole.

Villegas then made another birdie, meaning, despite leading by six shots just moments before, Kuchar had a difficult, downhill bogey putt to stay tied for the lead.

But as he said after the round to NBC, “It’s golf.”

“I’m going to do my best to let that one roll off my back and go try to play some good golf tomorrow,” Kuchar said.

He made the putt and parred in from there to shoot a wild 67. Villegas bogeyed 17 but birdied the 18th to go into the final round tied with Kuchar for the lead at 19 under.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at