Harold Varner III joins the fun atop the Waste Management Phoenix Open leaderboard

Harold Varner III joins the fun atop the Waste Management Phoenix Open leaderboard

PGA Tour

Harold Varner III joins the fun atop the Waste Management Phoenix Open leaderboard

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Harold Varner III birdied the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Thursday by burying a 31-footer, and then celebrated the way any good Carolina Panther would. With a dab.

Varner, a huge Panthers fan who donned a Cam Newton jersey on 16 a few years ago, says the atmosphere at 16 never gets old.

“I think that’s the coolest thing about this tournament,” he said after his first-round 64 which vaulted him into a three-way tie for the lead with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. “I’ve always embraced it. I think it’s a great way to grow the game and if I wasn’t playing golf and I wasn’t in this tournament, there would be a really good chance that I’d be somewhere in the crowd.”

Varner also birdied 13 and 15 on the back nine to make his charge. A second-hole bogey was the only blemish on his round.

“I drove it really well and made two bombs today,” referring to two long putts. “So it’s nice to see a low one in there but it’s the first day. I’m just enjoying myself. I’m going to go play a little Call of Duty and get ready for tomorrow. … I got a win last night. that’s what I was really pumped about. I’m terrible, but I play with good people.”

He said it’s no trouble avoiding a late-night Call of Duty binge, especially with a 9:30 ET a.m. Friday tee time.

“Easy. I put the game down and go to sleep. Those games don’t get me paid yet. I ain’t that good.”

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