What has Harold Varner III been up to since earning his 2015-16 PGA Tour card last Sunday?
"Just kickin' it, "Varner said Wednesday from Pinehurst, before a tee time at Country Club of North Carolina with former college teammates and friends. Not bad, huh?
If you haven't heard, Varner finished 25th on the Web.com Tour money list, good enough for PGA Tour status next season. What's more -- he's the first African American to earn his way to the PGA Tour through the Web.com Tour.
Varner entered last week's Portland Open 25th on the money list, and his T47 finish kept him in the top 25 by a mere $943.37. Varner is as laid back as they come, but even he felt the tension Sunday afternoon.
“I finished really early Sunday, when the leaders were teeing off,” said the 25-year-old. “I thought I missed it by one. When I got the card I was so elated, I didn’t have time to celebrate.”
The 2012 graduate of East Carolina—“thanks to my roommates”—still hasn’t celebrated what’s been a lifelong goal and doesn’t anticipate he’ll get a chance to for at least another few days. Varner took a redeye to Charlotte Sunday night, arriving at 6:20 a.m., then spent Monday at home in Gastonia, N.C., sleeping and doing interviews.
Varner met his coach, Bruce Sudderth, for a lesson at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The pair working on Varner’s upper-body move, as he tends to open up his shoulders early, then fall back in an attempt to correct. In prepping for the Web.com Tour Finals, Varner is trying to “cover the ball more.”
“The goal is to get my priority number up,” said Varner. “I’m 25th of the Web.com Tour grads so I might get into like two fall events. The next four events are pretty crucial for me.”
We know HVIII is good at golf, but in what other areas does he excel?
“I really like to have a good time,” said Varner. “I like to have a lot of fun, sometimes that gets in the way of getting stuff done. But I’m getting a handle on that.
“I like doing all kinds of stuff around sports. I love going to games, getting a cold beer and enjoy watching the best in the world do what they do. I can’t sit back and watch myself, so it’s the next best thing."
Varner will make a trip to his alma mater this weekend, where he was a three-time All-Conference USA selection, for a little fun before the season-ending Web.com Tour finals. But even with a PGA Tour card locked up, Varner has some unfinished business to attend to.
"I didn't win this season, which kinda sucked," he said. "I had some great opportunities. An A+ would be winning and getting a card. The goal is always to have a chance to win, obviously I have to get better. At the end of the day I gotta focus and handle my business."
Three top-10s, including a solo second, weren’t quite enough to satisfy, but with four events left there’s still a chance to improve on the season. Next up is the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills GC in Fort Wayne, a tournament where Varner shot a first-round 77 last year without playing a practice round—his clubs arrived late Wednesday night. Though he'd go on to miss the cut, a second-round 67 should add a bit of swagger to Varner's step, as will the PGA Tour card in his back pocket. He is, indeed, just kickin' it.