By Cam Huffman
With 18 holes left to play, England’s Paul Kinnear is clinging to a one-shot lead at the Faldo Series Grand Final at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.
Dodging rain drops and bundling up in frigid temperatures, the 19-year-old followed up an opening-round 71 with a 1-under par 69 Wednesday on the Old White TPC course, the home of the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic, to move to even overall.
Kinnear is the only member of the 99-player field not over par after two rounds. Megan Khang, a 17-year-old from Rockland, Mass., and Simon Zach of the Czech Republic are tied for second overall at 1-over-par. Khang is looking for an overall title, but she’s in firm control of the girls division, holding a nine-shot lead over Austria’s Michaela Gasplmayr and Austin, Texas native Kristen Gillman.
Defending champion Jack Singh-Brar is still close enough to strike after rounds of 70 and 73 to sit at 3-over-par, three shots off the lead. He came from four back to win the title in 2012.
This year’s Grand Final is the first to be held in the United States and the 17th overall. The 99 golfers from 19 countries make up the largest field ever in the event, which will conclude with today’s final round.
The field is divided into five age groups — three boys and two girls — and the winners in each group will receive a trophy and an exemption into the Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills Golf Club in China next March. The leading boy and girls will also be invited to play in a professional tour event. The title of Faldo Series Champion will go to the player with the lowest gross score, regardless of age or gender.
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Sir Nick Faldo, a six-time Major Championship winner, who now owns a home at The Greenbrier, has been on hand for the entire tournament. On Wednesday he held a question and answer session for the competitors with Dr. Gio Valiante and former LPGA player and PGA of America Board member Suzy Whaley.
Golfers from Greenbrier East and Greenbrier West high schools were given the opportunity to participate in a clinic with Faldo and his personal coach, Keith Wood.
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Established in 1996, the Faldo Series now includes 40 tournaments in 30 countries. More than 7,000 golfers compete each year. Past winners include Rory McIlroy and Yani Tseng.