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Kelly Kraft chases first PGA Tour title at Greenbrier

The former US Amateur Champion is still to win on the PGA Tour. (Photo: Getty Images / Rob Carr)
Kelly Kraft leads the Tribute to the Military at Greenbrier event in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, the 29 year old former US Amateur Champion adding a round of 63 to his opening 64 to lead by one over first round leader Webb Simpson and India’s Anirban Lahiri.

Kraft has struggled for much of this season despite a very busy schedule in which he has played 18 events already in 2018. He has a best of 35th in his last tens starts but a return to a venue where he recorded a 5th place on debut in the event last year appears to have rekindled his form.

Kraft has yet to win on the PGA Tour his best being when runner-up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am last year and when 3rd early this year in the Dominican Republic and so this now represents a great opportunity to break through.

"Obviously, anytime you shoot 63, it's a solid day," said Kraft. "I hit a lot of good shots, and I played well here last year, so I have a lot of good memories. Last year I didn't putt so well, and everything today seemed like it was going in. Yesterday too. But it seemed like I had a makeable look almost every hole, and you're bound to make a few of them.

"Yeah, my season has been a little disappointing this year. I had a pretty good season last year, and I've just been kind of -- I kind of had a decent start to the year, and then I slowed down mid year, and I've been kind of slipping on the FedEx list.

"But I've been working on some things that I knew were finally going to click. It's just taken a little while longer than anticipated. So I'm glad I find myself up here this week, and see if I can continue the good play."

Lahiri matched the opening round of 61 by Simpson as he too looks for his first PGA Tour title. The multiple winner of events internationally appears to be finding form after a slow start to the season, a 13th place finish in Washington last week following a 9th place finish in Hartford.

"This though was a very impressive performance. “I’ve been feeling good over the last two weeks," he said after his round. "I’ve seen improvement on the golf course after plugging the gaps and I am especially happy to have not dropped any shots this week.

Simpson's round of 67 paled in comparison to the 61 of yesterday but he was delighted with the way he bounced back after a shaky start. "Yeah, today was a little tougher than yesterday," said the recent Players Championship winner. "Almost as satisfying as being 2-over early, and coming back and shooting 3-under. It's not the shots I wanted on 11, 12, and 13.

"But I'm going to learn from it. Maybe change the shot up for those holes tomorrow, and really proud of the way I hung in there and kept executing, kept committing. And I feel like I'm hitting really good shots and really good putts when I'm committing right now. So that's the game plan for the weekend."

Jason Kokrak is alone in 4th position and two from the lead with former Australian PGA Champion Harold Varner 111 and Whee Kim another shot back and tied for 5th.

In what has been an overall disappointing week for the Australians to date only Cameron Percy has survived to play the weekend, the Victorian in a share of 33rd place.    

Matt Jones missed the cut by one despite a second round of 66 on the low scoring layout, missing a very makeable putt at the last to be around for the final 36 holes.

Former winner of the event, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Steve Bowditch and Geoff Ogilvy will also have the weekend off.




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