Varner co-leads, eyes Tour history


Harold Varner III will carry a share of the lead into the final round of the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C., as he looks to become the first African-American to win on the Tour.

Varner began the day with a one-shot lead, and at one point during the third round saw his advantage balloon to three shots. Despite a trio of back-nine bogeys, the 23-year-old shot a 1-under 70 and shares the lead with Byron Smith and Hunter Haas. Scott Gardiner and Roberto Diaz are tied for fourth through 54 holes, one shot off the lead.

Varner played his collegiate golf at nearby East Carolina University, and the 23-year-old leads the Tour this season in GIR percentage and is second in driving distance. His best finish came last month at the weather-shortened WNB Golf Classic, where he tied for sixth, and Varner tied for 13th last week at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

Varner has also made two starts on the PGA Tour this year via sponsor exemptions, missing the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and tying for 70th at the Northern Trust Open. He is currently 39th on the Tour's season-long money list, with the top 25 players guaranteed PGA Tour cards for the 2014-15 season.