2014 Rex Hospital Open: Varner tied at top with Haas, Smith at 11-under par

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis – editor@trianglesportsnet.com

RALEIGH, N.C. – Harold Varner III extended the lead by one stroke and was joined by Byron Smith and Hunter Haas at 11-under par to top the leaderboard following the third round of play at the 2014 Rex Hospital Open at TPC Wakefield Plantation on Saturday.

Though all three were tied, it was Smith’s low-round of the week, an 8-under par run on Saturday, that vaulted him into the final pairing with 14-year PGA and Web.com Tour veteran Haas, who ended his third round of play with a 4-under par score of 67.

Smith, a Pepperdine grad and eight-year pro on Tour, birdied five holes with a bogey going out on his front nine while alternating birdies coming back in and earning a spot in Sunday’s final group.

With three top-25 finishes and making six cuts in nine events coming into the Rex, Smith is looking to earn his first career Web.com Tour win while holding two victories on the PGA’s Canadian Tour to his credit.

After missing the cut in his last two starts at the South Georgia Classic and the BMW Charity Pro-Am, Haas, a four-time Web.com Tour winner, is seeking his first win of the season, currently sitting 57th on the money list.

Varner took the outright lead following the second-round of play and stayed in contention on Saturday while other players like Smith and Haas made significant runs towards the top of the board.

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Varner played his collegiate golf at East Carolina and now calls Gastonia, N.C. home while playing on the Tour and is the youngest of the three, seeking his first season and career win.

The field is tightly nestled behind the leaders as Roberto Diaz (-10), Scott Gardiner (-10), Nathan Tyler (-8), and Duke grad Ryan Blaum (-8) are not far behind, and with ideal weather and course conditions, Sunday’s finish at the TPC course should be one of the tournament’s most exciting in recent years.