Varner moves 2 clear at Rex Hospital Open

Raleigh, NC ( - Harold Varner III fired an impressive 9- under 62 on Saturday and he took a two shot lead through three rounds at the Rex Hospital Open.

Varner, who is seeking his first career victory on the Tour, finished 54 holes at 15-under-par 198. He finished in a distant second at the season- opening Panama Claro Championship, where Mathew Goggin won by four shots.

There are plenty of players within striking distance of Varner, however. Second-round leader and two-time champion Kyle Thompson shot a 2-under 69 at TPC Wakefield Plantation, tying him for second at 13-under 200 with Chase Wright (65), Steve Marino (66) and Drew Scott (68).

Todd Baek (66), Brad Schneider (67), Chris Baker (67), Patton Kizzire (68), Garth Mulroy (68) and Richy Werenski (69) are one shot further back at minus-12.

Varner had a huge front nine that set the tone for the rest of his round. A birdie on two got the 24-year-old into red figures and he followed that up two holes later with an eagle at the par-5 fourth.

As if Varner was not on fire enough, he went on a huge run with five straight birdies from No. 6, getting him to minus-8 on the day.

That run of birdies came to an abrupt halt with his first bogey at the 11th and Varner tripped to his second three holes later at 14.

While the two bogeys set Varner back a bit, he ran off three more birdies in a row from 15 to move into the lead at minus-15. Varner parred the last to end there.

"I did a really good job of rebounding to get it back on track," Varner said. "That's what you pride yourself on. When things aren't going well, you find a way."

Wright made a trio of birdies from No. 3 on the front nine before making his first bogey on eight. After a birdie on 10 was canceled out by a bogey on 12, Wright finished strong by making four birdies over his final five holes from No. 14 to grab a share of second.

Marino had a front nine for the ages as he became the 24th player in tour history to make three eagles in a round, all of which came on the front nine.

Back-to-back eagles on three and four may have been enough for Marino, but just for good measure he drained another eagle on the par-4 seventh from 179 yards out to get to minus-6 on the day. He did not make a single birdie on his round as Marino finished his day with 10 pars and a bogey on 17.

"I've never made three eagles in five holes, ever," said Marino. "After that, the hole kind of shrunk up. You can't be asking for too much when you hole out twice from the fairway. It was just one of those lucky things. It will probably never happen again for me in my life."

Scott was bogey-free on his round with birdies on two, four and 15, while Thompson mixed in an eagle on six with four birdies and four bogeys.

NOTES: Varner's runner-up finish was his only top-10 of the season and he has missed two cuts in nine events ... Jhared Hack had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth, while Greg Eason made an ace on the par-3 12th ... Varner has held a share of the 54-hole lead once before on tour, and it was at this event last year. He finished in second.