Masters 2022: The superstition that Harold Varner III has working so far at Augusta
With back-to-back 71s, Harold Varner III finds himself in the hunt after 36 holes in his Masters debut.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Someone is throwing up tonight in the Varner residence, and the safe money is on the youngest member of the family.
Though he is playing in his first Masters, Harold Varner III has looked nothing like a nervous rookie. On Friday, he posted his second-straight one-under 71 at Augusta National Golf Club, and his two-under 142 total put him into contention heading into the weekend. Winner earlier this year at the Saudi International, which propelled him into the top 50 in the World Ranking and a Masters invite, Varner appears so relaxed that you wouldn’t know that he is playing in just his ninth major at age 31.
But he had the perfect response when he was asked about how he is handling the pressure.
“The emotions are real, but you handle them and manage them,” he said. “My wife and my kid [Liam] are here, so I'm about to go squeeze him. He is going to throw up on me, and it's going to be great.”
A native of Akron, Ohio, who grew up and now lives in Charlotte, Varner provided a few interesting reveals on Friday. For instance, he doesn’t carry a yardage book, relying solely on his caddie, Chris Rice, who does carry one for yardages and advice. And Varner hasn’t used the locker room in the famed Augusta National clubhouse once this week, opting to change in the caddie room. In fact, he prefers it.
“The coolest part is I haven't had to go to the locker room. I just literally changed in the caddie room, and I leave my stuff,” he explained. “I like doing that at regular tournaments, and I've only been in the locker room once to see if some shoes showed up, and I have to go back again. I don't know, it makes it easy on me.”
Varner, 31, has yet to win on the PGA Tour, though he has consecutive wins in the Australian PGA Championship in 2016-17 to go with his dramatic victory in Saudi Arabia in which he sank a 92-foot eagle putt to beat two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson by a stroke. He carries with him the philosophy that “winning breeds winning” into the final two rounds and indicated that he hasn’t been interested in just hanging around to smell the azaleas.
When you count basketball great Michael Jordan among your friends and mentors, a winning attitude is probably a natural disposition.
“It’s been a great experience, but the best experience is playing well,” said Varner, trying to break the Masters rookie jinx that goes back to Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. “That’s totally selfish, and I’m OK with that.”
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