Three share lead at weather-hit PGA Barbasol Championship

Washington (AFP) –


The US trio of Martin Flores, Cameron Tringale and Zac Blair shared a one-shot lead on Thursday as darkness halted play in the US PGA Tour Barbasol Championship in Alabama.

Flores and Tringale were in the clubhouse on six-under 65 before thunderstorms halted play for almost two hours. Blair returned after the interruption and seized his share of the lead with a birdie at his final hole.

Australian Robert Allenby, South African Rory Sabbatini and Americans Chad Campbell and Tag Ridings were in the clubhouse on five-under 66, while American Richy Werenski was five-under through 16 holes when play was halted.

Flores went right to work on the par-71 Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Grand National layout in Auburn, Alabama, rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt at the first hole.

He picked up another stroke at the second, then birdied the par-five fifth to make the turn at three-under.

He drained a 14-footer for birdie at the par-five 13th, and added back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.

But Flores said the key to the round was making pars in between, which wasn't so easy as he missed five straight greens from the seventh through the 11th.

"I didn't really strike my approaches that well in the middle of the round, so getting the ball up and down a few times was key to keeping the momentum," he said. "Something I've been lacking this season is just keeping the rounds going, and I was able to do that today, which was a huge positive."

After opening his round with four straight pars, Tringale got things going with a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-five fifth.

"Made a nice putt for birdie on five and that kind of just opened the doors for the rest of the round," said Tringale, whose seven birdies included four after his lone bogey of the day, at the par-four 11th.

"I hit a lot of fairways, gave myself a lot of good looks on the greens and was able to capitalize."

Blair rolled in a 17-foot birdie putt at his last hole, the par-four ninth, to join the leaders. His bogey-free round also included an eagle at the par-five fifth and three more birdies.

The tournament opposite the British Open at Royal Birkdale features a field largely drawn from outside the top 125 on the US PGA season points list, looking to make gains in the standings to qualify for the season-ending playoffs.