COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Roberto Castro shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead in the Web.com Tour Finals’ Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
Castro birdied the par-4 15th and 16th holes and closed with two pars to finish at 7-under 206 on Ohio State’s difficult Scarlet Course.
“I played nicely today,” Castro said. “This golf course is something else. I would love to know on three or four holes a day if there was a single birdie in the entire field. There are only so many birdie opportunities out there.”
The 30-year-old former Georgia Tech player has played the PGA Tour the last four seasons, but slipped to 188th in the FedEx Cup standings to drop into the series that replaced Q-school.
“I haven’t won in a long time,” Castro said. “I played out here for a year and four years on the PGA Tour and I haven’t won. That’s a focus. That’s something I want to do.”
The tournament is the third of four events for the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and non-members who earned enough money to have placed in the top 200 had they been eligible to receive points.
The top 25 players on Web.com Tour regular-season money list earned PGA Tour cards. They are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for another 25 cards based on series earnings, with Castro entering the week tied for 11th with $30,118. Last year, Eric Axley took the 25th card with $36,312.
Harold Varner III, Robert Garrigus and Zack Fisher were tied for second at 5 under. Varner had a 66, the best round of the week.
Varner’s 66 was the best round of the week. He hit six of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens
“I’ve been hitting it everywhere,” Varner said. “I’m still hitting it everywhere, but I’m just finding a way to score. I’m getting up and down when I miss the green and obviously making the putts when I get the chance. ... At least I’m hitting it in a vicinity where I can find it.”
Varner finished 25th on the Web.com Tour money list to earn a PGA Tour card and has made $22,902 in the finals to jump to 20th.
Garrigus shot 67, and Fisher had a 69.
“I was piping it down the middle, hitting it long and hitting really good iron shots,” Garrigus said. “I’m pretty sure it was silly how far I was hitting it. I was hitting a perfect high draw right in the middle of the face.”
Garrigus, the winner of the PGA Tour’s 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, was 174th in the FedEx Cup standings. He missed the cuts in the first two series events.
Fisher was 48th on the Web.com Tour money list and has earned $2,630 in the series.