Former ECU golfer reflects on U.S. Open debut

Harold Varner is a former ECU golfer who competed in last week's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. Even though he struggled, he's confident he'll have another chance to compete for a major.

Former ECU golfer Harold Varner made his U.S. Open debut as an amateur this past weekend. Despite not staying the weekend at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA, Varner remains optimistic.

"It was an awesome experience… I learned a lot, it was a great opportunity and that's what it's all about—getting as many opportunities as possible," said Varner, who admits the atmosphere was different than he expected.

"It was nothing like the [NCAA Regionals]…There was 50,000 people out there. It's a little different than playing at home," said Varner. "There were a lot of people yelling ‘Go Pirates,' which was cool, but you have to stay focused."

With the U.S. Open in the rearview mirror, Varner already has his sights set on what's next. He got right back to work by competing in this week's Monday qualifier.

"I want to play in as many Monday qualifiers as possible," he said, mentioning the Web.com Tour specifically.

A standout performance in these qualifiers could mean a berth in the tour for Varner. But unlike the larger tournaments like the U.S. Open, these qualifiers don't provide players nearly as much time to impress.

"They're totally different—you get four days at the U.S. Open and only one for a Monday qualifier," said Varner. "The best seven people that day get in. You have to get teed up to get in."

Varner finished Monday's qualifier five-below par and tied for sixth place. An eight-for-one playoff will decide whether or not he qualifies for the Web.com Tour's Rex Hospital Open in his hometown of Raleigh, NC.

A PGA Tour card might not be in the immediate future, but Varner won't be deterred from his dream.

"I'm getting closer to having full status on the PGA Tour. That's the goal. The goals don't change because of how you play—they stay the same and you have to find a way."

During his time at ECU, Varner was renowned as one of the best players the program has ever seen. He was the 2012 Conference-USA Golfer of the Year and helped lead the Pirates to back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances in 2011 and 2012. He also made it to the NCAA Regionals in 2010 as an individual, becoming the only ECU golfer to compete in it three times.

Varner credits his time and the people at ECU for getting him where he is today.

"It was vital. I had a really good coach, Press McPhaul, he taught me a lot."


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