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Chiquita Classic

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Harold Varner III hoping Chiquita Classic’s familiar course helps snap recent skid in Web.com events

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent

DAVIDSON Harold Varner III hasn’t played his best golf the past two weeks on the PGA Web.com Tour and his finishes have shown it.

But Varner believes he’s ready for a turnaround this weekend during the Chiquita Classic at River Run Country Club.

“Every week is a week where you can turn it around,” said Varner, a Gastonia native who played collegiately at East Carolina. “But I can’t look back on last week or look ahead to next week – I’ve got to take care of business now.”

Varner was on the edge of cracking the top 25 in earnings – and with it, earning a PGA Tour “card” for next season – when he failed to make the cut at the final regular-season Web.com Tour event in North Plains, Ore., in late August. Then, Varner missed the cut again last week in Fort Wayne, Ind., the first event of the Web.com Tour Finals.

That two-week run dropped Varner from 27th to 36th in season earnings.

“I had some other things on my mind,” last week, Varner said. “I was thinking about stuff I shouldn’t be thinking about, but it’s all better now.

“I’ve been working at it hard, but the results haven’t been the same. My putting hasn’t been the same, which kinda sucks. But it’s going to be fine. I’ve got a clear head this week, and I feel good about playing closer to home.”

Playing in familiar territory has been a plus for Varner this season. His best Web.com Tour finish (tied for second) came last May at the Rex Hospital Open on Raleigh’s TPC Wakefield Plantation course.

Now Varner’s playing at River Run, just 30 minutes from his hometown. He last played a tournament there in 2013, finishing 12th in an eGolf Pro Tour event.

A strong showing over the final three Web.com Tour Finals events could put Varner in position to earn that PGA Tour card.

“I’m excited, because it’s a challenge,” Varner said. “The worst-case scenario is that I don’t get my card and I don’t have PGA Tour status for next year. That means I’m back here (on the Web.com Tour) next year, which isn’t the end of the world.

“I just need to focus on the now. I can’t worry about the past, and I’ve never done that. I just need to play my game.”

No strangers to winning: Of the 131 players competing this week at River Run, 24 have at least one career PGA Tour victory, including three of pro golf’s “majors.” In all, the group boasts a combined 57 tour wins.

Clemson’s Jonathan Byrd leads the list with five career PGA Tour wins, the last coming in 2011 at Kapalua, Hawaii. Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Tim Herron, Sean O’Hair and Heath Slocum have four each.

Ben Curtis also has four career PGA Tour wins, including the 2003 British Open. South Africa’s Trevor Immelman and South Korea’s Y.E. Yang each have a majors victory – Immelman at the 2008 Masters, Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship – among their two career wins.

Today’s schedule: Most of the field for this weekend’s Chiquita Classic will be on the course for practice rounds at River Run, including Bud Cauley, the winner of last week’s Web.com Tour Finals opener in Fort Wayne, Ind.

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