Story written by Michael A. Dean
Harold Varner III completed his first full year on the PGA Tour last Sunday at the Deustche Bank Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup Series. Varner failed to make the top 70. He finished 75th in FedEx points after a final round 74 +3 derailed his chance to move on to Crooked Stick. Although he didn’t make it to the last two events, Varner had a better than average year considering it was his first attempt. Let’s spend a little time here in this space to reflect on his ups and downs during the past twelve months.
After finishing 25th on the 2015 Web.com Tour, Varner earned his card that gave him playing privileges on the coveted PGA Tour. In his first event, the October Frys.com, after rounds of 65-70-69, a closing 79 dropped him from Top 10, down the money list to T48 and set a trend (poor final round play) that would follow him throughout the year. Varner entered 28 events and failed to make the cut only 10 times. Of his 18 completed tournaments, his best finish was T5 in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, the second event of the season. There were three other Top 10 finishes, T9 at the Valero Texas Open and T8 the next week in New Orleans and a 7th in the Quicken Loans National. The 26-year old graduate from East Carolina University finished the year 81st on the PGA Tour Money list with a total of $1,327,320 easily keeping his card for next season, well inside the top 125 money earners. But, there are things that he needs to work on to improve his game.
First, his scoring average, especially during the final rounds, needs to improve. Varner hits the ball a ton averaging 302-yards off the tee (21st) and his season long stroke average is 71.045 (101) per round is not bad. But, the rookie averages a score of 72.59 over the final 18 with highs of 79 twice. Throw in a 77, 76, 75 and three 74’s all of which knocked him lower on the money list which is the measuring stick for the tour. Varner loves the par-five’s because of his distance. He has a stroke average of 4.56 on them while he is just over par on the par three (3.08) and par four (4.09) holes. He averages 29.73 putts per round, 167 on tour which indicates a need for improvement with the flat stick. The best part about Harold Varner III is his attitude. He has a “Can Do” attitude which is 50% of what he needs to improve, the other is work ethic and after earning over a million dollars this year, he is still hungry.
Other Teebits: Little Mariah Stackhouse made her second straight cut in two Symetra Tour events this season. The Stanford graduate opened with a 74 in the Garden City, KS Charity and followed up with rounds of 72-72-70-288 (even Par). She finished T9 for the week and picked up a check for $3,123.00. Earlier in the Sioux Falls Challenge she posted 2-under 286 T-33 and picked up $1,333.00. Since turning pro she has played in one LPGA Tour event in Portland, two Symetra Tour events and passed the test in the First Stage Q-School, finishing T8. She has three more exemptions to prove she belongs on tour. She belongs and with a break here or there she will prove it.