Harold Varner III takes the lead at Saudi International with one round remaining

Harold Varner III holds a one-shot lead at the 2022 Saudi International.

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A birdie on the 18th hole propelled Harold Varner III to the top of the leaderboard at the PIP Saudi International with one round remaining.

The 31-year-old American fired a third-round 68 — two under par — to reach 12 under overall, and claim a one-shot advantage over his nearest opponent, Spain’s Adri Arnaus, who is 11 under.

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After opening with a round of 64, Varner shot 66 on Friday and his 68 on Saturday included an eagle, three birdies and three bogeys.

The round of the day belonged to Paul Casey, who fired a six-under 64 to climb into T14. Matthew Wolff, who was in contention through the first two days of play, posted a round of three-over 73 to drop into T12.

Record-setting Sentry Tournament of Champions winner Cameron Smith also lost some steam on Saturday, firing an even-par round of 70 to follow up two straight 66s. He’s currently in solo fourth, four shots behind Varner’s lead.

Other players in the mix include Tommy Fleetwood, who is two shots back at 10 under, and two-time champion Dustin Johnson, whose third round of 67 brought him to seven under overall, and five shots from the lead.

Phil Mickelson is currently T16 at three under overall.

Varner, who has never won on the PGA Tour, is seeking his second international victory, after winning the Australian PGA Championship in 2016.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.