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U.S. Open

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Varner’s time to shine

ARDMORE, Pa. Gastonia’s Harold Varner, a former East Carolina golfer who won the 2011 N.C. Amateur, will play on his sport’s biggest stage this week.

Varner was added Monday as an alternate to the field for the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at Merion Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia.

Varner made the field after he earned an alternate spot at a sectional qualifying tournament earlier this week at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

Varner, who played at Gastonia’s Forestview High, will play with Wil Collins of the United States and Ireland’s Kevin Pheland at 9:01 a.m. Thursday.

Varner helped East Carolina earn bids to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2012 and was the Conference USA player of the year in ’12. He also played as an individual in the 2010 NCAA tournament.

Varner, who plays on the eGolf Tour, became the first African-American to win the N.C. Amateur when he won the event two years ago at the Greensboro Country Club’s Farm Course.

Notes

Soggy Monday: It rained for much of the day Monday at Merion, further drenching a course that was already water-logged from rain last week. There are several parts of the course, particularly the 11th green, that are susceptible to flooding and did just that before the day was over. Rain is forecast to come and go for much of the week, with the weekend being clear.

Buddies now? Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia shook hands and spoke briefly on the driving range Monday, a public gesture perhaps meant to show they’ve put their spat behind them. Garcia had accused Woods of pulling out a club at the Players Championship in May to distract him before he hit. Then Garcia made a racially insensitive comment about inviting Woods to dinner a few weeks later.

Scott dials back: Masters champion Adam Scott will join Woods and Rory McIlroy as part of a marquee Thursday and Friday group. Scott has played just twice since winning at Augusta for his first victory at a major, but that’s part of a strategy he’s had for three seasons. He’s playing a limited schedule, one that’s targeted at peaking at the majors.

“Well, my lack of success and 10 years of playing badly,” explained Scott, whose Masters win came a year after he let the British Open slip away. “I’m a learner, but not a fast one, obviously. The frustration was really high in 2010. I was playing well, not getting results that I wanted. I was frustrated with a lot of things because of that.

“I’d had enough of not playing well enough in the big events when I felt I could. So I had to do something different. You have to after a while if it’s not working. If it is broke, you’ve got to fix it.”

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