Matt Kuchar knew he was in trouble when his tee shot sailed so far to the right that he hit a provisional in case the ball was out-of-bounds.
He found the ball, and somehow never lost the lead.
Kuchar escaped his only big mess Friday with a 35-foot bogey putt on the 12th hole, and he rode eight birdies to a 7-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead over PGA Tour rookie Cameron Champ going into the weekend at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Champ, going after his second victory in three weeks, played in the morning and shot 62 with a bogey on his final hole.
Kuchar was at 14-under 128 as he tries to end more than four years without a PGA Tour victory.
What put Kuchar in good shape were the five straight birdies on the front nine, and then he took the lead for the first time with a birdie on No. 11 before his wild adventure on 12.
- At Phoenix, Paul Goydos birdied the par-5 18th for a 6-under 65 and a one-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Tied for the first-round lead with Tim Petrovic after a 63, Goydos had six birdies in the bogey-free round in warm, sunny conditions at Phoenix Country Club.
Scott McCarron, one of six players left in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race for a $1 million annuity, was a stroke back at 13 under after a 64. Cup contender Jerry Kelly of Madison shot a 67 and is at 7-under.
- At Hainan Island, China, Gaby Lopez turned 25 on Friday and celebrated her birthday with a hole-in-one that helped her to a 6-under-66 and a one-stroke lead over Ariya Jutanugarn after the third round of the Blue Bay LPGA tournament.
Even better, Lopez will be after her first career U.S. LPGA Tour victory in the final round on Saturday and will play in the last group with Ariya, the No. 1-ranked golfer. They also played together on Friday at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club.
Lopez aced the 17th, knocking in a 7 iron from 181 yards.
Dez Bryant’s tenure with the Saints may have been short-lived. In just his second practice with New Orleans, the newly acquired wide receiver indicated in social media posts Friday that he has had a significant setback.
The team’s injury report listed Bryant as questionable for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati with an ankle injury, but a person familiar with the situation said the team is still awaiting the results of a doctor’s examination of Bryant.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced any details of Bryant’s medical exam.
- The Detroit Lions will be without standout cornerback Darius Slay for Sunday’s game at Chicago. The Lions ruled Slay out with a knee injury. Guard T.J. Lang is also out with a neck problem. Slay started all 16 games for the Lions last season and had eight interceptions. He’s picked off two passes this season.
Joe Mauer is retiring after 15 major league seasons, six All-Star games, three Gold Glove awards, three batting titles and 2,123 career hits, all with his hometown Minnesota Twins.
“Thank you, Minnesota Twins, and thank you, fans, for making my career as special and memorable as it was,” Mauer wrote in a full-page ad that will run Sunday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Because of you I can leave the game I love with a full and grateful heart.”
Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million contract expired the day after the World Series ended, creating a natural parting from the game he grew up with in St. Paul, less than 10 miles from the downtown Minneapolis ballparks he called home with the Twins.
The first overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School, the same program that produced Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, Mauer made his debut at the Metrodome on April 5, 2004.
- Yuki Yanagita hit a game-ending, two-run home run off Kirby Yates in the ninth inning, and Japan beat the MLB All-Stars 7-6 in the opener of a six-game exhibition series at Tokyo Dome.
Juan Soto, Carlos Santana and Amed Rosario homered to build a 6-4 lead.