By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 12/06/20 8:37pm
Harold Varner III believes he has a great opportunity to challenge for a maiden PGA Tour title after recovering from a nightmare hole to top the leaderboard at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
The world No 124 held a share of the lead alongside Justin Rose after the opening round at Colonial Country Club, only to immediately lose his advantage after racking up a triple-bogey on his opening hole.
Varner struck a wild tee shot and had to take a penalty drop on his way to a triple-bogey seven, before bouncing back by following successive birdies from the 12th by holing a 10-footer at the 16th.
The American bogeyed the 18th and was still over-par for his round until draining a 30-footer at the fourth, the first of five birdies over the closing six holes to take Varner to 11 under and into the clubhouse lead.
“After making the triple I was just fighting for my life,” Varner said after his round. “Obviously not the start I wanted, but it’s just a part of golf.
“If I would have tripled the last, it would have added up to the same. It’s a great opportunity going into the weekend.
“I tripled hole 10, and then on 12 I had like a three-footer for birdie, so you’re starting to just get a lot of momentum. Even after a triple, you just can’t live in the past. It’s not a great place to be and it’s hard to learn from there.”
Live PGA Tour Golf
June 13, 2020, 12:45pm
Former Colonial champion Jordan Spieth, without a worldwide win in 2017, sits a shot back in second after recovering from a mid-round dip to post a second successive 65.
Spieth birdied six of his opening 11 holes to move into a two-shot lead, before he took three putts from inside three feet on his way to a four-putt double-bogey at the third – his 12th hole.
The three-time major winner also dropped a shot at the par-three next but quickly undid some of the damage, making back-to-back birdies from the fifth to get back to 10 under.
“I played a really, really solid round of golf with a kind of 20-minute hiccup for a couple holes,” Spieth said. “With eight birdies around this place, it’s nothing to complain about. I’m obviously very pleased with the position I’m in after two rounds.
“I did a really good job of staying very neutral, where I’d been kind of getting really negative or down on myself for a little while in the past now. I felt that I gave myself some grace to say, look, I haven’t really been practicing a ton of those kind of short-range putts.
“I’m happy with where I’m sitting and looking forward to the battle with some of the greatest players in the game for the next two days.”
Live PGA Tour Golf
June 13, 2020, 6:00pm
Watch the Charles Schwab Challenge throughout the weekend on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Saturday with Featured Groups from 12.45pm, ahead of full coverage from 6pm.