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Sports

Drive to thrive
Gastonia’s Harold Varner III eyes PGA Tour career
 
Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:12 am
by Herbert L. White

Harold Varner III can’t afford to be nervous at the Wells Fargo Championship.

COURTESY PGA TOUR
Gastonia’s Harold Varner III plays on the web.com professional golf tour, but his goal is to move up a step to the PGA Tour. He has a sponsor’s exemption to play the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club this week.

The Gastonia native will be playing in front of friends and family at Quail Hollow Golf Club thanks to a sponsor’s exemption, but doesn’t feel especially anxious about it. After all, he’s been on a bigger stage.

“I will (be tense) on the first tee, but I don’t think I’ll be as nervous as I was at the U.S. Open (last year, where he missed the cut),” Varner said. “I’m just going to have to figure it out, calm down and execute my shots. I’m sure everyone has to deal with the nerves. The ones who can deal with it the best win.”

Varner, 23, plays full time on the Web.com tour, a step below the PGA Tour. As a kid, he learned the game from his dad, Harold Varner Jr., and played with the Par Busters, a Charlotte-based group of African American golfers, before expanding his game at East Carolina. Quail Hollow – a course he’s familir with – is another step in his professional growth.

“I’ve played in eGolf events (a step below the Web.com tour) in Charlotte, but this is my first PGA event,” Varner said. “In the last two weeks I’ve played it a few times. I think I’ll be fine.”

Although Varner plays in golf’s version of the minor leagues, the Web.com tour is anything but a backwater. In the last couple of month’s he’s played tournaments in Chile, Brazil and Panama before returning to the U.S. for a couple of warmups before the Wells Fargo. The experience of being on his own has been beneficial.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s very international right now. I’ve been out of the country than in the country the past two months. I’m just excited to be back in America.”

Being at home for a week is a plus as well. A good showing at the Wells Fargo Championship – especially making the cut to advance to weekend play – would make it a successful homecoming.

“I’m playing good and I just need to stick with my game plan – drive it well and wedge it well and putt pretty decent, you should have a chance,” he said.

Varner doesn’t have a timetable for his ultimate goal of joining the world’s best golfers full-time – “I think God is going to have you where He wants you to be,” Varner said. He’s focused on being prepared to seize the opportunity to make the jump.

“There’s a plan – you want get a PGA Tour card,” he said. “That should be everyone’s goal, but winning takes care of that and to win you have to do things you do even better or the things you don’t do very well you have to do better. 

“I try my best to simplify and don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. All that time you spend worrying about someone else, you’re going to slack off on what you should be doing.”

 

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