Before we get serious, before we talk about whether Harold Varner III can finally break through on the PGA Tour, and before we discuss his thoughts in doing so, we would be remiss not to share some HVIII stand-up. One, it’ll lighten the mood. And two, it ties into the whole winning thing anyway. The setups are provided by the assembled press at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Take it away, Harold.
What was the toughest part of the conditions for you today?
“Nothing. I don’t control them, so I don’t think much of it.”
You said you’ve played with Jordan [Spieth] here a couple times before. Is that kind of a nice relaxing pairing to be able to go out and play on Saturday like this?
“For sure. I think you can get in those pairings, and it can be just you and your caddie. It’s not a very fun place to be. I like to have fun, so it gets a little tough. I can only talk to my caddie so much. I love him and all, but yeah, what else are we going to talk about?”
How would you characterize that day today?
“It was good, yeah. I didn’t know it was bogey-free.”
OK, so it wasn’t exactly Saturday Night Live. But it wasn’t some of the cliche dribble we sometimes are served, either. Point is, Varner’s a showman. He doesn’t shy from the stage. That’s good. Because one is again set for him.
On Saturday at Colonial, Varner, as he mentioned, was bogey free on his way to a two-under 68, and that followed a Friday 68 and a Thursday 66. Sunday, he’ll start three strokes back of leader Scottie Scheffler. But it’s here where we have to remind you that Varner has actually never won on Tour. Though Varner is well aware, thank you very much.
It’s the why-not that’s been confusing. We’ve discussed the chutz-pah, so it’s not that. A look at the stats shows he’s solid from tee to green; if anything, he’s a little shaky on the greens (95th in Strokes Gained: Putting this year), but worse putters have won at least once. So it’s not that.
It’s just sometimes golf, you know.
Which is actually pretty much what happened when he did win, at the Saudi Invitational, which, though not a Tour event, was filled with Tour stars. There, wouldn’t you know it, on the 72nd hole, needing a putt to drop from 90-plus feet away to win, a 90-plus foot putt dropped, and he won.
“Crazy s**t can happen,” Varner said Saturday. “Man. You’re sitting there on — you just never know. You’re never out of it. Like going back, thinking about it while you’re asking me, you’re sitting there on 17, I’m in the bunker and I’m two shots down, I’m like, how can I tie. Just believe you can do — anything can go in from anywhere, obviously.”
So is that the final piece? We’ll find out Sunday. Keep in mind that it’s a surprise now when Scheffler doesn’t win, so there’s that.
But funnier things have happened.
“I think it’s for a person like myself and other people, I think if you want to learn and you want to win, I think you kind of just take a little bit here and there, nothing specific where I need to do this tomorrow,” Varner said. “I think you go play golf and execute the best you can and have fun with it. It’s a game.
“I really love competing. Like that’s what makes it so fun. Everyone is like, what do you love the most about golf. I’m like, I love trying to beat other people. Everyone is like, beat the course. If I only played the course, I wouldn’t play golf.”