Varner looking for experience, 'not carrying torch'


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Harold Varner III will tell you he is grateful for men like Charlie Sifford who broke down barriers for black men in the game of golf, but he will also tell you he isn’t “carrying that torch” in a bid to join Tiger Woods as the only black men playing the PGA Tour as members.

Varner, who grew up in Gastonia, 20 miles west of Charlotte, is playing the Wells Fargo Championship on a sponsor exemption this week. He’s here to learn in a bid to be the best player he can be.

“Whether I miss the cut, or finish top 10, I need to have some type of learning experience that's going to further my career, but it's nice to get a paycheck,” Varner said.

Varner earned his Tour card at Q-School late last year. He is coming off a tie for sixth last week at the WNB Classic, his best finish in six starts this year on that tour. He tied for 70th at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open earlier this year, where he played on that tournament’s special exemption for top golfers who represent the advancement of diversity in the game.

Varner said his father taught him to treat everyone the same, regardless of color.

“For me, I don’t carry that torch,” Varner told the Charlotte Observer. “I don’t think that’s right. You just need to see everyone for who they are. You want to give people the same opportunities that I’ve been given. I’m very fortunate there were guys who came before me that broke down barriers. But things are different now. If a guy treats me fair, or is willing to help me, he’s going to get the same treatment from me.”