2022 RBC Heritage Scores: Harold Varner III leads after round three with a packed field in pursuit

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (AP) — Harold Varner III shot an 8-under 63 to take a one-shot lead in the RBC Heritage on Saturday in pursuit of his first PGA Tour win.

Varner birdied eight in a bogey-free round to tie Cameron Young’s opening score as the lowest at Harbor Town Golf Links this week. Varner had an 11-under 202.

Varner will need to be just as crisp on Sunday. FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry of Ireland and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa were pulled back.

Cantlay, the second round leader, had a 70. Lowry shot 65 and van Rooyen had a 67.

Former RBC Heritage champion Matt Kuchar, Hudson Swafford, Sepp Straka and Aaron Wise were at 9 under. Swafford shot 66, Kuchar and Straka 67 and Wise 68.

Varner has two international victories, winning the Australian PGA Championship in 2016 and the Saudi international in February.

He seemed to be off the hook with his Friday finish, going 4 on his last four holes for a 72. But it was a decision on the sixth that irked Varner — and fueled him for Saturday.

Varner’s tee shot on the par-4 sixth was ruled out of bounds. Varner told officials he saw a spectator pick up the ball which was eventually identified as Varner’s and may have put it past the out of bounds marker.

The decision stood, Varner made a double bogey and fumed about it. “I would say I’m really good at putting things aside, but I haven’t put that aside,” he said.

Instead, he used the frustrating finish to fuel his run to the top. Varner birdied on four of his first six holes – including that unsettling sixth – and took the lead with a 10-footer on the 16th.

Harbor Town is far from Varner’s favorite layout – “It’s my favorite because we can drive here,” said Varner, who lives in Gastonia, North Carolina – even though he finished second here last year. last year and shot in the 60s in six of his last seven rounds.

Varner said every shot here was “super uncomfortable”.

“I feel like I’m still guiding him there,” he said. “But if you can guide it through 72 holes, you can do some damage.”

Lowry, too, bounced back from a 72 on Friday to close in on the lead. He was jerky early on, following birdies on the second and fifth holes with bogeys on the next. But he leveled off after that for a 65, matching his career low at Harbor Town.

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Lowry said conditions, particularly gusts of 20 mph or more on Friday, had eased and left the course generally tricky with no defence.

“Yesterday was just one of those days where you have to batten down the hatches,” Lowry said.

“Whereas today I felt like any time you had a good number,” Lowry said, “you could really go to the flags. And I did and I hit some good shots.”

He will need more from this Sunday if he hopes to claim his third career victory and his first since the British Open in 2019.

Cantlay finished Friday with a bang – four consecutive birdies from numbers 15 to 18, the toughest part of the course – for a two-stroke lead.

But he couldn’t find that form much of that round. He caught Varner with birdies on the sixth, seventh and ninth holes, then pulled back with bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes. He shot within a shot of Varner on the 18th hole, his approach landing within 5 feet for a closing birdie.

“There was some good, there was some not so good,” Cantlay said. “But I’m in a very good position for tomorrow. Especially with that closing birdie on the 18th, get some momentum, and obviously I’m there.”

Tommy Fleetwood, who left more than 3.5 hours before Cantlay’s last pairing, posted a 64 to give a first hint of the very accessible course.

Maverick McNealy and Peter Malnati, like Lowry, had 65 seconds. Swafford, Wyndham Clark and Graeme McDowell posted 66 points. In total, 45 of the 71 competitors are under 70 years old.

On Friday, no one shot below 67 and only 19 out of 130 players had scores in the 60s.

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