Harold Varner III chose an ideal moment to sink his life’s biggest putt.
Varner needed two putts to force a playoff after trailing fellow American Bubba Watson by one stroke and putting from just short of the 18th green at the par-5, but instead sank a 90-foot eagle to win the Saudi International. In delight, he pounded his fist and leapt into the arms of his caddie, Chris Rice.
In his winner’s press conference, Varner said, “Worst case scenario, we’ll go to a playoff, and I’ll get him there.” “Then it sank in, and emotions poured forth.” That’s fantastic. That’s the emotion I want to see when I’m playing with my kids. It’s for this reason that you play. “The best thing in the world is competition.”
Varner, 31, shot 1-under 69 in the final round at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, to beat Watson, who had earlier concluded his round with a birdie-eagle combo to take the lead.
Watson was six shots behind Varner heading into Sunday, but he took the clubhouse lead with a 15-foot eagle putt at 18. He raced to Varner, his QBE Shootout partner since 2018, and hugged him when Varner’s putt sank.
Watson, who shot 64 on Sunday, said, “I’m not resentful at him for beating me.” “I applaud him since he is a great friend of mine.” That’s something I enjoy watching. I’m rooting for him.”
“We’ve spent a great deal of time together.” Varner, who gave birth to his first child, Liam, in October, said, “He’s always been in my corner.” “How awesome would it be if I could beat someone I idolize?” And I don’t like how it went down, but he’s already won a lot.”
Varner won his second international championship on the Asian Tour, and his first since the 2016 Australian Open. He’s still on the lookout for his first PGA Tour victory. Varner is set to break into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since turning professional in 2012. The top 50 players in the world as of March 28 receive invitations to the Masters, an event Varner aspires to compete in.
Varner, who had a 72-hole total of 13-under 267, commented, “I never doubted myself.” “I never doubted my abilities.”