Varner, Kraft tied for lead

Both play­ers are look­ing for first PGA Tour vic­tory; 15 golfers within 5 shots of lead

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - SPORTS -

Harold Varner and Kelly Kraft are look­ing to add to the crop of first-time win­ners on the PGA Tour in West Vir­ginia.

Varner shot a 4-un­der 66 Sat­ur­day to tie Kraft at the top en­ter­ing the fi­nal round of A Mil­i­tary Trib­ute at The Green­brier.

Both are seek­ing their first tour wins in their 85th starts. Since this tour­na­ment de­buted in 2010, there have been four first-time cham­pi­ons, but no third-round leader has won.

“I wish we could go play right now,” Varner said. “I’m pretty hun­gry. This is what you work for. This is what I get so pumped up to do.”

Varner had four back-nine birdies af­ter 10 con­sec­u­tive pars to catch Kraft, the sec­ond-round leader who let a four-stroke lead slip away and shot 1-un­der 69.

Both were at 14-un­der 196.

Varner’s best fin­ish on tour was a tie for fifth at the OHL Clas­sic in Mex­ico in 2016. He has one top-10 fin­ish in each of the past two years and won the Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship in 2016.

“I guess this whole thing’s new to me be­cause I’ve never had a lead go­ing into the last day,” Varner said. “But I don’t re­ally lack con­fi­dence. That’s never re­ally been a prob­lem. I just need to slow down and take it all in. Be­cause there’s go­ing to be some­thing that hap­pens to­mor­row where I can learn and I can grow and I can get a lot bet­ter. So it goes back to keep­ing it in per­spec­tive.

“That was deep. Sorry.”

Kraft, who fin­ished fifth in last year’s tour­na­ment, re­fused to get down on him­self de­spite bo­geys on two of his fi­nal three holes Sat­ur­day.

“I’m just go­ing to stay pa­tient to­mor­row,” he said. “I hit a lot of good shots to­day.”

Fif­teen golfers were within five shots of the lead. The tour­na­ment has been de­cided by two or fewer strokes ev­ery year and has gone to a play­off three times. The 2016 tour­na­ment was can­celed af­ter dev­as­tat­ing floods.

The Old White TPC dried out on a sunny Sat­ur­day and scores weren’t as low as the first two days when rains soft­ened the course and yielded eight rounds of 63 or bet­ter.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Xan­der Schauf­fele and Kevin Na were at 13 un­der. Both shot 65. Sam Saunders was alone in fifth place at 12 un­der af­ter a 67.

Bubba Wat­son shot 65 and was among three play­ers at 11 un­der.

LPGA: Sei Young Kim shot an 8-un­der-par 64 in the third round of the Thorn­berry Creek LPGA Clas­sic to tie the 54-hole record of 24 un­der and take a com­mand­ing eight-stroke lead. Kim got rolling with an ea­gle on No. 3 and added six birdies. A birdie on No. 16 tied An­nika Soren­stam’s 24 un­der at the Mizuno Clas­sic in Ja­pan in 2003. Kim will take aim at Soren­stam’s 72-hole record of 27-un­der par, set at the Stan­dard Reg­is­ter Ping in 2001 in Phoenix. Kim will need a 4-un­der 68 on Sun­day to break that record.

euro­pean: Erik van Rooyen left be­hind his overnight co-lead­ers to grab a com­mand­ing four-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal day of the Ir­ish Open.

Van Rooyen be­gan the third round in a three-way tie for the lead, but stormed to the turn in just 29 shots on his way to a 6-un­der-par 66 to fin­ish 14 un­der. He’s four shots ahead of Joakim Lager­gren (69) and Ryan Fox (70).

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Harold Varner used four birdies on the back nine to help him rally from a four-shot deficit and tie for the lead af­ter the third round of A Mil­i­tary Trib­ute at The Green­brier on Sat­ur­day.

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