Harold Varner III made two eagles en route to an 8-under-par 64 at Trump National Golf Club Washington, D.C., to take the first-round lead at LIV Golf D.C. in Sterling, Va.
Varner is two clear of James Piot (6-under 66), with a group tied for third at 4-under 68 featuring Cameron Smith of Australia, Mito Pereira of Chile, Kevin Na and Andy Ogletree.
Varner opened his round with a bogey at the par-3 fourth hole but shrugged it off quickly. After a birdie brought him back to even, he made an eagle 2 at the 317-yard, par-4 ninth hole. His second eagle came four holes later at the par-5 13th hole.
“Holing out never gets old, and it makes it a lot easier,” Varner said. “No, nothing spectacular. You just want to have eagle looks, honestly, and if you do that — I got lucky, I made some long ones in Tulsa, chipped in, but it’s a part of it. I feel like I’ve been working at it.”
Varner followed the second eagle with two birdies for a 4-under run in three holes. He picked up birdies at the final two par-5s (Nos. 18 and 3) to set the pace.
Varner, 32, is seeking his first win on the Saudi-funded LIV circuit. He has had a fine career thus far and tied for 29th at both the Masters and the PGA Championship this season, but his last win came in February 2022 at the Saudi International on the Asian Tour.
Piot and Ogletree are former U.S. Amateur winners among the younger pros hoping to make a mark in the PGA Tour’s upstart rival league. Piot had seven birdies and one bogey Friday, while Ogletree had five birdies and one bogey.
“LIV Golf for me, I can speak personally, has given me an opportunity to succeed,” Piot said. “I mean, there are so many good golfers out there, and just to be one of the 48, I feel like one of the luckiest guys on planet Earth. It gives young guys another opportunity, is the way I see it.”
Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed were among the names tied at 3-under 69. Bryson DeChambeau and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, among others, shot 2-under 70.
Brooks Koepka, coming off his fifth career major title on Sunday at the PGA Championship, opened with an even-par 72.
Phil Mickelson is in 44th place after an opening 2-over 74.
Varner’s RangeGoats GC are tied with Iron Heads GC for the lead in the team competition at 10 under. Varner, Talor Gooch (70) and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters (72) had their scores count for RangeGoats, while Iron Heads were fueled by captain Na, Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe (69) and Danny Lee of New Zealand (69).
“I want to see the RangeGoats beat the Aces, and there’s only one way to do that, and that’s with good golf,” Varner said. “On paper we’re really good, and I’m tired of being good on paper.”
–Field Level Media