Varner, Kraft share top spot after third

Pro Golf

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — 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.

Kraft had a one-stroke lead entering the round, the first time he’s led after 36 holes on the PGA Tour.

Elsewhere in golf:

n Sei Young Kim won’t only be chasing a victory at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic today. She will also be chasing history.

Sei Young Kim shot an 8-under-par 64 in the third round of Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic on Saturday to tie Annika Sorenstam’s 54-hole record of 24 under and take a commanding eight-stroke lead.

In the final round, Kim will be trying for Sorenstam’s 72-hole record of 27 under.

Kim, who had a 63 on Thursday and a 65 on Friday, 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.

n South African golfer 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 on Saturday.

He’s four shots ahead of Joakim Lagergren of Sweden (69) and Ryan Fox of New Zealand (70).

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