One day after its reintroduction, golf gets down to business

Harold Varner hits his tee shot on the 11th hole.

Harold Varner hits his tee shot on the 11th hole on Friday.

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FORT WORTH, Texas — This … 

Through two rounds of the Charles Schwab, here at the timeless Colonial Country Club, Harold Varner III has a one-shot lead as he tries to win his first PGA Tour event. Varner, 29, followed his bogey-free Thursday 63 on this par-70 course with a Friday 66 that started with a triple bogey.

is …

Varner’s closest pursuers are Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau, who are one shot behind Varner. Spieth, who lives nearby in Dallas, is looking for his first victory since claiming the 2017 Open Championship. His second-round 65 included a four-putt green. DeChambeau, also of Dallas, won four times in 2018 but has not won since. 

how …

The event, originally scheduled for May 21-24, was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic that caused the sports world to pause. Its play this week, without spectators, represents the first major American sport to resume action since mid-March. 

we …

The tournament, one of the oldest regular stops on the PGA Tour, will be telecast this weekend by CBS Sports. In addition to Spieth, there are four former major winners among the top-10 players. They are Rory McIlroy (9 under), Justin Thomas and Justin Rose (both 8 under) and defending U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (8 under).

do …

Varner, one of the few black players on the PGA Tour, has been inundated this week with media questions about golf and race, in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Pre-tournament, Varner spoke extensively on what golf can do to become more racially diverse. But during his Friday round, the North Carolina resident said he was “really just focused on playing some good golf.”

it …

The 148 golfers in the original field included eight players who are 50 and over. One of them, 50-year-old Jim Furyk made the 36-hole cut of 2-under par. Sixty-seven players will be playing on the weekend. Among those who did not qualify for weekend play are Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Shane Lowry.

baby.

Varner and Spieth will play together in the day’s final twosome.

What …

Asked about playing without fans, Spieth said, “Golf is golf. It’s about, ‘Where do I hit this shot to be in the best position to hit the next one?’ You don’t actually really notice that you’re out here alone. But I think the weekend will change that — for sure.”

we … 

Colonial is a course famously associated with Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and other top players through the years. Asked about the quality of the leaderboard, McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, said, “This is a golf course that’s always let the best players rise to the top. You have to be in complete control of your game. Hit fairways. Hit greens. Convert some putts. The leaderboard is a who’s-who of golf right now. I’m just happy to be in the mix.”

have …

It’s uncommon to have two midway leaders who had such unusual second-round adventures. (DeChambeau’s second-round 65 was without a bogey.) Spieth’s four-putt green came on the par-4 third hole. His 30-footer for birdie finished about 3 feet from the hole. But he missed the par putt by hitting it too hard and had a 3-footer for bogey as well. He missed that and faced his third consecutive 3-footer. He made that one for double-bogey. “I gave myself some grace to say, ‘Look, I haven’t really been practicing a ton of those kind of short-range putts,’” Spieth said.

here …

Varner’s round began on the short par-4 10th hole, where his tee shot finished on a bridge deep in the right rough. He took a penalty shot, hit his third shot into a greenside bunker, his fourth over the green, his fifth on the green and then needed two putts for a triple-bogey 7 on a 400-yard hole. “Obviously, not the start I wanted,” Varner said.

feels …  

Discussing his 2-under 68, Thomas said, “I played a lot better than my score. I putted really, really well, just nothing went in for me. But I’m in a good place and that’s all I can ask for right now.”

pretty … 

CBS is trying a broadcast experiment this weekend in which players will be invited to stop for a camera on the 10th hole being called the Confession Cam and offer viewers some insight into how their rounds are going.

pretty … 

“The camera won’t be live, there won’t be anyone there, all the guys have to do is step on a taped X and say something about their round and if it’s good we’ll use it,” Jim Nantz, the longtime CBS broadcaster, said.

close … 

Collin Morikawa (-9), 23, is looking for his second PGA Tour win.

to …

Xander Schauffele (-9), 26, is looking for his fifth Tour win.

a …

DeChambeau (-10), 26, is looking for his sixth Tour win.

golf …

There are five golfers within two shots of the lead.

… tournament.

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael_Bamberger@golf.com.

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Michael Bamberger

Golf.com Contributor

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. Before that, he spent nearly 23 years as senior writer for Sports Illustrated. After college, he worked as a newspaper reporter, first for the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, later for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written a variety of books about golf and other subjects, the most recent of which is The Second Life of Tiger Woods. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on The E-Club, a utility golf club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.