From T-1 to T-27: Four-putt leads to back-nine 45 for Harold Varner III
“Crazy s**t can happen.”
Sitting three shots off the lead after 54 holes of the Charles Schwab Challenge, that was Harold Varner’s response Saturday after being asked what he learned from his Saudi Invitational win in February, in which he prevailed with a walk-off 90-foot putt.
And the same answer rang true Sunday for Varner at Colonial. However, this time, it was the flip side of the coin.
Varner, looking for his maiden PGA Tour victory, walked up to Colonial’s par-4 12th tied for the lead. He hit his drive 317 yards down the right side of the fairway and had just 126 yards to the hole. Then disaster struck. Varner dumped his approach shot into a greenside bunker. Faced with a buried lie, he blasted out to 19 feet. And then he had to wait.
Playing competitor Scott Stallings had a lengthy ruling at the 12th hole, leading Varner to wait several minutes before he could attempt to save par. When it was finally his turn, Varner left his 19-footer short. He then raced his bogey effort past the hole and did the same on his putt for double bogey. He left three shots back after a triple.
It only got worse from there as an avalanche of misfortune continued, diminishing any hope to claw back into contention.
On the par-3 13th, Varner hit his tee shot into the water en route to a double. A wayward tee shot and provisional at the 14th led to another triple bogey. Varner added another double on No. 17 and then capped off a back-nine, 10-over 45 with a bogey at 18. His closing 78 placed him T-27.