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Varner 111 and Kraft share Greenbrier lead

Varner joins Kraft in the lead (Photo: Bruce Young)
Kelly Kraft still leads the PGA Tour’s Tribute to the Military at Greenbrier but he now shares that lead with former Australian PGA Champion Harold Varner 111 with defending champion Xander Schaufele and Kevin Na just one shot back.

Kraft appeared to be heading to a comfortable 54 hole lead with three birdies to start his closing nine but he opened the door for the rest of the field with two bogeys late in his round and with Varner reeling off a back nine of 32 the gap quickly closed.

Neither player has won on the PGA Tour, Varner’s only recognised win coming when winning the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast in 2016. He also finished runner-up in that same event the year before.

His best finish at this level was when 5th at the Mayakoba in 2015 but a 7th place at this year’s Players Championship, might be a better reflection on his capabilities.

Varner indicated that his game has been in good shape since that week at the TPC Sawgrass and self admittedly enjoys playing in the heat of the summer rather than earlier in the season.

Varner’s round flat-lined through the front nine but he stepped up a gear on the way home to reel in Kraft who has one runner-up finish to his name on the PGA Tour although not a lot of good recent form to suggest a performance of this quality was on the cards.

Some time spent with Tiger Woods in playing practice rounds recently appears to have had an impact on Varner. "He talked to me about focusing. He said that focusing is like watching -- reading a book while you're watching TV, or like while the TV is on. So like you hear the noise but you focus on the book.

"So the golf course is the book, so don't act like you don't hear it. And I thought that was awesome. And then last week, he made me put my phone up, because the first time I played with him, I was like, dude, relax, it'll be okay. And then he wasn't having it the next time."

Kraft did however finish 5th at the Greenbrier last year and so has found a golf course that appears to suit his game and the opportunity for a breakthrough win is still very much a prospect.

Schauffele moved within one with an eagle at the 17th hole and is on track for a succesful defence of the title he won last year.

Kevin Na added a round of 65 to join Schauffele just one off the lead.

Sam Saunders is 5th while amongst those at 11 under and just four back is pre tournament favourite in many people's eyes, Bubba Watson. Watson's round of 65 today has him in contention for his 4th title of 2018. 

Cameron Percy was the only Australian to make the cut this week but a round of 71 on the low scoring layout saw him drop 15 places to a share of 48th.  

RULES: LOST BALL AND OUT OF BOUNDS

 

 

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