Harold Varner III of the United States plays his shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, June 12, 2020. /VCG
Harold Varner III opened with a triple bogey and closed with a flurry of five birdies over his last six holes to surge into the early second-round lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday.
Varner fired a four-under-par 66 at Colonial Country Club to reach 11-under 129 after 36 holes in the US PGA Tour's return event after a three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"If you going to make a triple do it while you are playing well," said Varner, who is seeking his first win on the PGA Tour. "I knew I could get it back. I just had to be patient.
"I got it back in a hurry, so that was nice. Once I got it back to even par I just wanted to given myself looks. The way I finished was pretty awesome."
As one of three players of black heritage in the top 200 in the world rankings, Varner said he was playing for unity and social justice, referring to George Floyd's unfortunate death.
A microphone operator wears a mask as she follows Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and caddie Harry Diamond during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, June 12, 2020. /VCG
Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau are tied for second, one stroke back after a second consecutive 65s, while world No.1 Rory McIlroy fired a 63 to join Americans Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele sharing third on 131.
This week's Charles Schwab Challenge is the first event since the Tour was shut down in March at the Players Championship, and is played absent of spectators.
Players also have to undergo temperature screenings, regular COVID-19 testing and practice social distancing on tee boxes and in the clubhouse.
The field includes 15 of the world's top 20 players, but some of the bigger names from outside of North America decided to skip the event because travelling to the U.S. would mean a two-week quarantine, including 10th-ranked Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.
(With input from agencies)