How Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan Helped Harold Varner III Elevate His Golf Game

Published 08/20/2021, 2:54 PM EDT
Jun 10, 2021; Ridgeland, South Carolina, USA; Harold Varner III hits from the 18th tee during the first round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports


Harold Varner III has tragicomic memories in the New York metropolitan area. The 31-year-old American professional golfer has come close to winning twice on the PGA Tour. Firstly, at the Bethpage Black golf course in PGA Championship and the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Course. 

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And now, after round one of the 2021 Northern Trust, the first event of the FedExCup playoffs, Varner scored 5-under 66. He is currently three shots behind the leaders Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm. However, Harold was the early leader before JT and Rahm stormed in with birdies. 

Moreover, this performance came from Varner after a mini-meltdown during the third round of the Wyndham Championship. And he finished T57 for the event. But it was his approach shot that sailed over the 11th green and created problems. However, he said he is glad that it happened there rather than here at Northern Trust.

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Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods’ advice to Harold Varner III

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ST LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Tiger Woods of the United States stands on the 15th hole during the third round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 11, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Harold Varner III had a devastating final round at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage, where he shot a final-round 81. He was playing in the final pairing with the eventual winner, Brooks Koepka. However, a day after this tragedy, Varner was on phone with Michael Jordan. The NBA legend Jordan has become a mentor of his through his friend Fred Whitfield. Varner is also a Jordan Brand athlete. 

“When I shot 81 at the PGA, I picked [Jordan’s] brain and told him I was super-nervous and asked what he did in those situations, like, ‘What did you think about?’ ’’ Varner said. “We went through the round. And he told me I needed to stay in the present and focus on what’s happening right now. Because that’s all you can control. You hear that growing up, but doing it is a different story — especially in that situation.’’ 

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Moreover, when Varner played with Tiger Woods at TPC Sawgrass, he gave him more or less similar advice. “I remember asking, ‘Man, what does it take to win? I want to win,’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it; my journey and your journey are totally different,’ ’’ Varner recalled.

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Amey Kulkarni

277 articles

Amey Kulkarni is a Golf writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in mass media. Before joining EssentiallySports he used to write articles on Golf and Cricket on his personal blog cricgolf.

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