Varner fires 62 to grab share of lead in North Carolina

(Reuters) - Harold Varner III shot a bogey-free 62 in the first round of the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Thursday to sit atop the leaderboard alongside Tom Hoge and Roger Sloan.

Aug 13, 2020; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Harold Varner III reacts after his round during the first round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament at Sedgefield Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina native had eight birdies in all - four on the front nine and four on the back - to finish eight under at the par-70 Sedgefield Country Club, two shots clear of Harris English.

“I love coming back home and playing,” Varner said.

“It’s nice to get in your car, you don’t really have to do too much, I can go home tonight.”

He won’t rest too easy, however, after seeing the sensational play of fellow American Hoge, who also carded an eight-under 62.

Hoge chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th to take a one stroke lead over Varner but missed an 11-foot par putt on his last hole and had to tap in for his lone bogey, which dropped him into a tie for first.

Canadian Sloan was hot out of the gate with birdies on six of his first eight holes thanks to some stellar putting en route to his eight-under 62.

“You’ve just got to cherish days like this, it’s fun when you’re making that many putts,” Sloan said.

“You’ve got to give credit to these greens, these greens are in remarkable shape. You get them started on line with the right pace, they’re going in.”

It was a different story for Brooks Koepka, who needed 35 putts to get through his round of two-over 72.

The world number seven said fatigue was beginning to set in after playing in a slew of events recently and being in contention going into the final round of the PGA Championship in San Francisco on Sunday.

“A bit tired, to be honest with you, so definitely came out flat,” said Koepka.

“But I’ve got to play, I’ve got no other option.”

Koepka is currently 93rd in the FedEx Cup standings and will need to step up his game if he wants to qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake, which has a field of 30.

The first round of the tournament, which is being played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was suspended due to weather late Thursday with a handful of players scheduled to complete it early Friday morning.

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Tom Brown