Harold Varner III and Sam Saunders both picked a good time for a low round.
With his PGA Tour status at stake entering the final regular-season event, Varner opened with a 7-under 63 at the Wyndham Championship. It marked his lowest round of the season and left him in a tie for third, two shots behind Matt Every.
“Just played a really good round of golf. I hadn’t played one in awhile,” Varner told reporters. “Things are working together, working hard at it so the results are paying off. The hard work is paying off, rather.”
Varner started the week ranked No. 138 in the season-long points race, likely needing at least a top-20 finish to crack the top 125 and keep his PGA Tour card for next season. Varner won the Australian PGA Championship in December, but that didn’t help his domestic standing and Varner’s T-15 finish at the season-opening Safeway Open remains his best result of the season.
But needing a big week and playing in his home state, the former East Carolina product birdied two of his first three holes and added six more in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his round.
“Almost makes it easier because you let it go,” he said. “You try to hold on to something, you’re not going to do as well. Just play golf. I love playing golf and that’s what I want to do.”
Saunders was among the last to complete the opening round Thursday evening at Sedgefield Country Club, but he stiffed his approach to the difficult 18th hole to close with a birdie and match Varner with a 63. After starting the week at No. 127 in points, Saunders is now projected to move to No. 100.
On the flip side of the bubble equation, No. 125 Geoff Ogilvy is projected to fall six spots after starting with an even-par 70, while Zac Blair started the week at No. 120 but is now projected at No. 126 after a 1-under 69 left him eight shots back and outside the cut line.