May 4, 2020 / 8:04 AM / a month ago

Varner has no fears about getting back on the PGA Tour bus

(Reuters) - Harold Varner III is getting impatient to play professional golf again, and has no qualms about jumping straight back into the water when the PGA Tour resumes next month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some players have expressed reticence to commit to competing again until they know details of the tour’s plan to test for the novel coronavirus, Varner is not among them.

The PGA Tour is scheduled to restart without spectators with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas from June 11-14.

It will be among the first professional sporting bodies in the United States to resume after shutting down on March 12.

“Someone’s got to start somewhere or we’re going to put ourselves in a hole we can’t get out of,” Varner said in a telephone interview with Reuters, referring to the general economy rather than golf specifically.

“The economy and everything, if we stop for six months it’s going to be hard to get going.

“Pros will be fine but there’s going to be a trickle-down effect. You’re seeing businesses that aren’t making it for two months that we’ve been gone. If we did this for six months it’s going to get everybody.”

The tour has said it wants to test all players for coronavirus when it resumes, but has not been specific about its exact plans.

In a recent Golf Digest survey of 35 players, slightly more than half said they would be prepared to compete only if a comprehensive testing plan is in place at every tournament.

HOME DRIVING RANGE

Varner has been keeping busy since the tour suspended its season. The North Carolina native moved into a new house in Charlotte late last year and he has also bought a 16-acre (six-hectare) property nearby for his parents, with a driving range to boot.

“I’ve been hanging out there a lot over this break,” he said. “Have got a bundle of toys like tractors, plenty of things to do, an indoor place to hit, everything you can think of.

“I’ve been practicing a decent amount.”

He’s also found time for turkey hunting and exchanging the occasional text with North Carolina’s most famous son, basketball great Michael Jordan.

Varner is contracted to wear Jordan Brand shoes and apparel.

Now he is ready to get back onto the road, even if has to pull his own clubs if the tour bans caddies from handing them to players, which it has been speculated it will do to reduce the chances of anyone contracting coronavirus.

“I don’t really care. It wouldn’t be the first time,” said the 29-year-old, who won the 2016 Australian PGA Championship.

Still seeking his first PGA Tour victory, he has knocked on the door a few times, most recently at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, where he was one stroke from the lead starting the final round before finishing 13th.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to get back to playing,” Varner said.

“I’ll play everything until the new year. That’s what I do. What am I going to do, sit at home? I’ve been sitting home the last six weeks.”

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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