PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Harold Varner III often grins his way around a golf course, but he had extra reason to smile Friday at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Playing in one of the day’s final groups, Varner closed with four birdies over his final five holes to shoot a 9-under 62 and rocket up the leaderboard. The score was the lowest so far this week and tied a course record set by Harris English en route to his victory here in 2013.
Varner was aided by a pair of chip-in birdies and at 10 under, he sits just two shots behind Graeme McDowell after two rounds.
“Got a hot putter,” Varner said. “I’ve been hitting it pretty well the last two weeks, in Missisippi and here, so just want to give myself opportunities and obviously I did and capitalized on it.”
Varner, 25, is a member of last year’s celebrated Web.com Tour graduating class, a crew that has already produced PGA Tour winners in Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman and Peter Malnati. Varner said he has been inspired by the play of his peers, and believes his game is “capable enough” to win on the main stage.
His first chance to contend, though, did not go as planned. Varner played well through the first 54 holes of the Frys.com Open, only to card a final-round 79 and finish in a tie for 48th. His plan to improve this time around did not lack confidence.
“Oh, I’m going to play better, that’s pretty simple,” he said. “I’m going to play really good.”
Varner was also grinning after the round because of a tweet sent earlier in the day by friend Justin Thomas, who predicted that Varner would go low Friday because it coincided with the release of Justin Bieber’s latest album.
“That was pretty funny. I didn’t think about that until I got off the green,” he said. “I’m a big Justin Bieber fan, it’s just – he’s such an idiot. I just can’t imagine what he was thinking after he sent that, but it was pretty funny.”