November 11, 2018 / 10:28 PM / a month ago

Kuchar hangs on to defeat Lee by one in Mexico

(Reuters) - Matt Kuchar shook off back-to-back bogeys to win his first PGA Tour tournament in more than four years with a one-stroke victory over New Zealand’s Danny Lee at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Golf - The 147th Open Championship - Carnoustie, Britain - July 22, 2018 Matt Kuchar of the U.S. in action during the final round REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Despite the late drama, the 40-year-old Kuchar finished at two-under-par 69 to complete the week at 22-under 262, the lowest 72-hole score in tournament history.

Lee shot six-under par 65 to wind up at 21-under 263, equalling the previous tournament record.

Americans J.J. Spaun (66) and Richy Werenski (67) tied for third at 265.

Kuchar had been in cruise control for much of the tournament but struggles at the 14th and 15th holes enabled Lee to make it interesting as he pulled within one shot with a birdie at the 16th hole at the El Camaleon in Playa del Carmen

The American, playing behind Lee, collected pars on the last three holes, finally winning with a three-foot putt at the 18th after Lee missed a birdie opportunity that would have tied the score.

“I didn’t want a three-footer on the last hole to win this thing,” Kuchar told Golf Channel. “I was hoping to have a three or four-shot lead and some wiggle room. But man, that felt awfully good.”

He had not won on tour since April 2014 at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The title was his eighth on the tour.

“To get a win in Mexico, and go from ‘hola’ to ‘aloha,’ going to Hawaii, I can’t wait to go,” said Kuchar, whose next tournament will be in Hawaii.

He started the day with a four-shot lead, increasing it to five strokes at one point in a round that included four birdies.

But Kuchar’s two bogeys and Lee’s seven birdies against a single bogey at the 15th hole made for an interesting close.

“I have been hitting it good all week,” Lee said. “I know if I just putt half decent I am going to have a chance.”

As for his birdie miss at the 18th, where the ball did not turn as he thought it would, “I really did hit it on my line and where I was looking,” Lee said.

“But sometimes it just happens I guess.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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