Varner, Hoge and Sloan share PGA Wyndham lead with 62s

American Harold Varner shares the first-round lead with Tom Hoge and Roger Sloan at the US PGA Tour Wyndham Championship. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Chris Keane

Harold Varner fired eight birdies in shooting an eight-under par 62 that put him in a three-way tie for the first-round lead Thursday at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Varner matched his career-low round on the US PGA Tour and shared the lead with fellow American Tom Hoge and Canadian Roger Sloan.

All three were in the clubhouse and two strokes clear of their nearest rival — Harris English — when thunderstorms halted play for the day.

The first round was set to resume Friday morning, with round two still slated to start on schedule.

Varner, chasing his first tour title, was first in the clubhouse with a 62 that was fueled by four straight birdies from the eighth through the 11th.

Birdies at the 13th and 15th meant a run of three birdies to the finish would give him a 59, although Varner said thoughts of golf’s magic number never entered his head.

“I didn’t think about it at all,” Varner said. “Just trying to birdie every hole. You can go get it out here, obviously, with the scores, so I just knew that, you know, the gas pedal is on the right.”

In fact, Varner parred his way in from the 15th, good enough to put him atop the leaderboard on a course just a couple hours’ drive from his hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina.

He doesn’t have the benefit of hometown fans this week with the PGA Tour still playing without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

So a flirt with a 59 would have added some excitement on the largely quiet course.

“I wish I would have thought about it, just to get some more goosebumps,” Varner said.

Hoge moved as low as nine-under after rolling in a 14-foot eagle putt at the 15th and chipping in for his seventh birdie of the day at 16. But he closed with a bogey to settle for a share of the lead.

Sloan, meanwhile, birdied six of his first eight holes before a bogey at the ninth, then picked up three more birdies coming in.

English had seven birdies and a bogey in his six-under 64 and was one stroke in front of Wesley Bryan, Brian Harman, Kim Si-woo, Patrick Reed and Chesson Hadley.

Former US Open champion Webb Simpson was two-over through four holes but roared back to head a group on 66.

“It’s a golf course you can make a lot of birdies,” Simpson said. “So as hard as it is in the moment, you’ve just got to stay patient and I did that.”

Two major champions who were in contention at the PGA Championship in San Francisco last week got off to a slow start, with Brooks Koepka firing a 72 and England’s Justin Rose a three-over 73.

today in print