Unfortunately, Harold Varner III will be seen as different at the start of this PGA Tour season because of his race. You see, Varner, who earned his PGA Tour status through the Web.com Tour, is the first African-American to earn a PGA Tour card since Joseph Bramlett in 2011. Varner joins Tiger Woods as the lone pair of African-American players on the circuit.
Of course, that invites questions, and Varner, one of golf’s most likable characters, answers them politely. However, if he continues to play like he did on Thursday at the Frys.com Open, the topic of the questions will focus more on golf.
Varner opened with 7-under 65 at Silverado Resort’s North Course to finish the day two shots behind Day 1 leader Brendan Steele.
The 25-year-old is hoping to get off to a quick start on the PGA Tour season. As a Web.com Tour graduate with good status among the 50 players to get through the developmental tour or its four-event postseason series, he has access to the first five open events on the new season. If he can score good finishes in those events, he’ll open up the rest of his season. Varner played all 25 events on the Web.com Tour schedule last year, so he’s exhibited a love for competition that should benefit him when his peers get weary of life on the road.
In the end, Varner has one simple goal for the year: get to the Tour Championship and earn the perks that come along with surviving the PGA Tour season, including berths into three major championships.
“I want to play in East Lake. That’s the goal,” he said Thursday. “I don’t see why not. Everyone has the same opportunity and I’m starting fresh. … I just have to go work. Pretty easy for me. I’m excited.“