Georgia resident and world number seven Kuchar, who has recorded top-10 finishes in his last two Masters starts, fired a four-under-par 68 in sun-baked conditions to end the third round of the year’s opening major one stroke off the lead.
Though he ran up an unfortunate bogey at the par-four last after he overshot the green with his approach and faced a near-impossible putt coming back, he was excited with his position heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I had a good, steady round of golf, not many mistakes out there,” Kuchar, who is still seeking his first major title, told reporters after mixing six birdies with two bogeys for a four-under total of 212.
“It was kind of a continuation of my last couple weeks. I’ve been playing some nice golf now for three weeks. Felt like I drove the ball really well around here. People don’t put that much of a premium, but it’s important.
“People put more of a premium on approach shots, and you’ve got to be pretty precise coming into these greens, and I felt like I was really striking it clean, really in pretty good control.”
Kuchar birdied three of the first nine holes on Saturday before maintaining his push up the leaderboard as he came home in one-under 35.
“I had a number of good birdie opportunities and had a few putts go in, which was fun today,” said the 35-year-old, a six-times winner on the PGA Tour.
“The greens are as fast as I ever remember seeing Masters greens, a bit on the frightening side. But it’s fun. It’s what we come here for.”
Asked to pinpoint the reason for his comfort factor at Augusta National, Kuchar replied: “I really enjoy the golf course. Not sure. I’ve come on some pretty good form these couple of weeks.
“I’m really excited for tomorrow. This is a position all of us hope to be in when we show up on Monday or Tuesday. You hope that your game is ready. It’s one of those special places and awfully exciting to be in this situation.”
Kuchar, who won two big events on the PGA Tour last year, including his first World Golf Championships (WGC) crown, was unlucky to bogey the 18th on Saturday when his seven-iron approach ended up over the back of the green.
From there, he decided to putt and looked on in horror as his ball barely crested the lightning-fast green before it then gained momentum and kept on rolling some 35 feet beyond the cup.
“There’s just next to no grass on the 18th green, and I watched my putt just continue rolling out forever,” he said.
“And then I hit my par putt and had it not hit the back of the hole (before finishing two feet away), it would have been going 10 or 12 feet by.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)