Behind Kraft, U.S. takes third-round Spirit lead

Kelly Kraft during the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur.

Kelly Kraft led Team USA to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Spirit International Amateur. The Americans leapfrogged Canada at the best-ball stroke-play event hosted at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas. The U.S. is chasing its second consecutive Spirit title after winning the event in 2009.

The U.S. trailed Canada by three shots entering Friday’s third round, but combined for a 9-under 135 in Round 3 to bring its 54-hole total to 20-under 412. Kraft, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, and Nathan Smith, a three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, posted a 3-under 69. Kraft is one of six players to score 10 birdies on the week. Kraft and Smith are fifth on the men’s leaderboard, four shots behind Canada in first.

The U.S. gained major ground thanks to a third-round 66 from Arkansas sophomore Emily Tubert and LSU sophomore Austin Ernst (also the reigning NCAA champion). It is the lowest score so far of any women’s team, and bumped the U.S. to third on the women’s leaderboard. Argentina is in first.

“It was just perfect out there today. You couldn’t script a better day,” said Tubert, who birdied the 11th, 12th, 15th and 17th holes Friday. “You could really go at the flags and be aggressive.”

Overall, the U.S. is three shots ahead of Denmark at 17-under 415. Argentina and Canada are tied for third another shot back.

–Information from The Spirit Golf Association used in this report.

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