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The Greenbrier

Varner in pursuit; ECU's Taylor cut

East Carolina’s Blake Taylor shoots 70-71 in the first two rounds, misses cut of 3-under.

US Open Golf

Harold Varner III plays his shot from the fourth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Thursday, June 14, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Staff, wire reports

Friday, July 6, 2018

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Kelly Kraft is about to find out whether he’s ready to handle the lead entering the weekend for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Kraft shot a 7-under 63 in the second round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on Friday to take a one-stroke edge over first-round leader Webb Simpson and Anirban Lahiri of India. Kelly is at 13-under overall.

Former East Carolina standout Harold Varner III also is not far behind Kelly after firing a bogey-free 64 in Round 2 to improve to 10 under. Current ECU golfer Blake Taylor, a rising junior, was solid in shooting 70-71, but he missed the cut of 3 under after his 71 to finish 1 over in his PGA debut.

Kraft posted his career-best round Friday at the Old White TPC.

He is looking to turn around a season that has included missed cuts in seven of his 10 previous tournaments, including last week at the Quicken Loans National. But he has had some success in West Virginia, where he tied for fifth last year.

“I’ve kind of changed my attitude a little bit starting with last week,” Kraft said. “I just feel like I’m ready to keep playing good.”

Kraft made four birdies on the front nine and didn’t let a bogey on the par-5 12th hole derail him. He added birdies on the next two holes and took the lead with a six-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th.

Reminded that it’s his first time leading a PGA Tour event after 36 holes, Kraft said he was confident.

“I’ve been up there before and I know I can play out here,” he said. “I’m just looking for two more low ones and a bunch of scoring opportunities.”

Lahiri shot a career-low 61 and Simpson had a 67. Both were at 12 under.

Lahiri has yet to make a bogey in his first trip to The Greenbrier resort. He found just eight of 14 fairways but reached all 18 greens in regulation Friday. Four of his nine birdies were putts of 18 feet or longer.

“I’ve been feeling good over the last two weeks,” Lahiri said. “I’ve seen the improvement on the golf course and I’ve tried to plug the gaps that I’ve found over the last two weeks. And I’m happy that more than anything else I haven’t dropped a shot. But I’m not thinking about that. The focus is just to put myself in the best position that I can, and that’s a big positive for me.”

After shooting 61 on Thursday, Simpson saw his chance for a very low score end quickly on Friday.

Starting on the back nine, Simpson hit a tee shot that went out of bounds and made double-bogey on the par-5 12th, a hole he had eagled the day before. He then bogeyed the par-4 13th after his tee shot found the rough. He made five birdies the rest of his round.

“It was not the start I was looking for,” Simpson said. “I hung in there. I weathered that storm and made some birdies there on the front nine to keep it under par and give myself a chance for the weekend.”

Jason Kokrak shot 64 and was in fourth place at 11 under. Whee Kim is tied with Varner for fifth place.

Simpson is the only one among the top six players on the leaderboard with a PGA Tour win. Since its 2010 debut, the tournament has produced four first-time winners, including three rookies.

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

July 18, 2018

CARY — Duke football coach David Cutcliffe was asked Monday during the Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview about nightmares he has in his profession.

He joked that one involves facing a North Carolina offense and N.C. State defense during the same game. He was sitting next to East Carolina third-year…

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July 16, 2018

CARY — The 16th annual Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview followed tradition Monday and turned into part comedy act by the five coaches involved and part serious football talk.

East Carolina third-year coach Scottie Montgomery and N.C. Central interim coach Granville Eastman were joined by Atlantic…

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July 16, 2018

Speaking engagements and vacation time for college football coaches will turn into full preseason practices in less than a month, but for now there is still some balancing of obligations.

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator David Blackwell has worked on specific details with his players…

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July 15, 2018

David Blackwell has coached college football at Pittsburgh and South Florida, which is located in Tampa.

He said it was easy to recognize that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL are kings in those cities.

He also is a former East Carolina football player and student…

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July 14, 2018

The Cuba team put together an abundance on runs Saturday for a 15-4 victory over the visiting USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but USA still finished its summer with a 12-3 record and won all three of its international series.

The Americans featured East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin as…

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July 12, 2018

The success of a profitable NCAA baseball regional held at Clark-LeClair Stadium in June and positive vibes from fans at recent Pirate Club armada events had officials optimistic at Thursday’s Athletics and Advancement Committee portion of the East Carolina Board of Trustees meeting, but the…

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July 12, 2018

East Carolina standout and Greenville native Bryant Packard went 2-for-4 as the leadoff hitter in Game 1 for the USA Collegiate National Team in the USA vs. Cuba series in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday night.

Game 2 on Wednesday night saw ECU pitcher Jake Agnos throw four innings with three…

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July 12, 2018

July is a big month for college football fans to soak up preseason hype in the form of magazines, predictions and projections of all kinds.

These things have not been kind already to East Carolina, which has posted consecutive 3-9 seasons under coach Scottie Montgomery.

The Phil Steele Preview…

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July 11, 2018

A major “wow moment” happened for Blake Taylor before he even teed off last Thursday at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his PGA Tour debut.

It came Tuesday during a practice round for the East Carolina rising junior while playing with PGA veteran Jim Furyk.…

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July 10, 2018

East Carolina men’s golf coach Andrew Sapp is the president of the Golf Coaches Association of America, and serving in that role put him in Avion, France, last week.

He was there for the Arnold Palmer Classic, which is a Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers, while current Pirate…

Greenbrier Golf
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