Matt Kuchar finishes off rain-delayed second round, lead by one at Colonial

Matt Kuchar made three pars Saturday morning as he completed the rain-delayed second round.
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Matt Kuchar got up early Saturday morning, made three quick pars to keep his second-round lead at Colonial and then went back to the hotel for a short break.

Kuchar's final three pars wrapped up his second consecutive 5-under 65 at Hogan's Alley in the rain-delayed event. His 10-under 130 put him a stroke ahead of Graham DeLaet.

Kuchar was among 54 players unable to finish the second round Friday night because play was suspended by an approaching storm, and after a weather delay of more than two hours earlier in the day.

“Perfect out this morning still,'' Kuchar said. “It is a little bit awkward waking up at 5 a.m. and getting kind of a warmup in the dark. You don't always feel as comfy as you do in an afternoon one when you've gotten a proper warmup and you can see the golf ball and know what it's doing.''

DeLaet shot a second-round 67, even with three consecutive bogeys. But the Canadian finished without interruption before the midday delay Friday, giving him a more leisurely Saturday morning before his scheduled third-round tee time with Kuchar in the final group early in the afternoon.

Kuchar had just hit his tee shot at the par-3 16th hole, and was on the green about 40 feet away from the cup, when play was stopped Friday night.

“Not the easiest position to leave, kind of a lot of break with some speed at the end,'' said Kuchar, whose first stroke Saturday was a putt to about 4 feet.

His drive at No. 17 was in the right rough, just short of a bunker, but he got on the green safely from there and then finished with another par at the 445-yard 18th for a bogey-free round.

Kuchar has the 36-hole lead for the sixth time in his career. The last was at The Players Championship in 2012 that he won.

“Best place to be, right,'' Kuchar said. “It's just steady golf, nothing real special. Driving well, putting it well, approaches are good. … Kept myself out of trouble.''

Steve Flesch (64), 19-year-old Jordan Spieth (67) and Josh Teater (67) were all at 8 under. A stroke further back were Chris Stroud (66), Chris Kirk (66) and Freddie Jacobson (67).

Flesch, the 2004 Colonial champion coming off right shoulder surgery last August, ended a streak of 16 consecutive missed cuts on the PGA Tour since October 2011.

First-round leader Ryan Palmer, the Colonial member who opened with a 62, was 10 shots worse in his second round and in a group of 11 players tied for ninth at 134 that included Zach Johnson, the defending champion.

Palmer had birdied two of his previous three holes when he got to the tee at the par-3 13th Friday before play was stopped. But he bogeyed two of the six holes he had to play Saturday morning, three-putting from 28 feet at the 457-yard 14th hole and missing the fairway at No. 18.

Johnson, who also won the 2010 Colonial, had pars on his two holes Saturday morning to finish a bogey-free 65.

Ranked No. 13 in the world – the highest in the field – Kuchar got off to a tremendous start Friday when he came up only inches short of an opening eagle before an approach at No. 2 that actually went in before ricocheting out of the cup. Those were part of four birdies his first seven holes to match DeLaet at the top of the leaderboard, and Kuchar got the lead alone with a 6-foot birdie putt at the 457-yard 14th hole.

Right after taking the lead, Kuchar recovered from a drive into a fairway bunker on the 15th for a par while clouds darkened and thunder could be heard in the distance. The WGC-Accenture Match Play winner in February was walking toward the 16th green when play was stopped Friday night.

Flesch, who matched the best second round with a 64, missed the cut in all 12 of his PGA Tour starts last year before surgery, and is playing only his third tour event this year. The 46-year-old Flesch is playing on a non-exempt major medical extension and has to make $647,510 between this weekend and his next three events to prolong that medical extension.

“I'm very comfortable here and just glad to actually play on the weekend now,'' Flesch said.

DeLaet was 10 under after his third consecutive birdie, a 6-footer at the 373-yard second hole that was his shortest putt in that stretch. Then he arrived at Colonial's famed “horrible horseshoe'' as the Nos. 3-5 holes are known because of their layout and the difficulty of the stretch – a 239-yard par 3 sandwiched by the two longest par 4s on the course. But he finished with consecutive birdies after almost making a 31-footer at No. 7.

As DeLaet so aptly put it, “Kind of got myself right back in it.''