From a correspondent
Potomac Falls: In his 11-year professional career, Harold Varner III won individual trophies in Australia and Saudi Arabia.
With his RangeGoats GC, he celebrated the LIV Golf League team trophy earlier this year in Singapore.
But the 32-year-old never won on American soil until Sunday when he won the LIV Golf DC trophy with a 4-under 68 in the final round, a one-stroke win over a hard charging Branden Grace.
Winning in front of the biggest crowd at the US LIV Golf tournament, Varner became the second RangeGoats player to win this season, joining Talor Gooch who won back-to-back titles in Adelaide and Singapore.
“Very special,” Varner said. “I’ve never won in America. It’s my favorite country.”
Varner, however, could not enjoy celebrating champagne with his team.
The Spanish-language Torque GC won for the second time this season with a 9-under to finish 27-under, beating the South African Stinger GC by three shots, with the RangeGoats finishing third.
“That’s good, but at the end of the day I really wanted to celebrate with the RangeGoats,” said Varner. “This is my team.”
Varner made several clutch moments Sunday at the Trump National in Washington, none bigger than his birdie bunker hole on par-4 11th to take the lead.
His par-3 tee shot in 15th created another birdie to give him a two-stroke lead.
But Grace, who lost in overtime to Dustin Johnson two weeks ago in Tulsa, birdied two of the last three holes, including the last hole, par-4 seconds, and tied Varner at 11-under.
“I’ve been playing flawlessly all day,” Grace said after his 6-under 66 no bogey, the only clean round of the week. “It’s nice to make a shot like that when it matters.”
By this time, Varner was about to take his second shot on the par-5 18th. His iron 6 from 197 yards landed on the front edge of the green and landed 40 feet from the pin, setting up a birdie with two putts for the win.
“I knew exactly what I had to do, when and how I had to do it,” Varner said. “I love it. That’s why you play for the moment.”
Varner’s win prevented Torque from winning both trophies. Torque’s Mito Pereira took Varner out with one stroke to start the day, but he wasn’t as sharp as in previous rounds on his way to 71 points and a third place finish.
Even so, his long eagle hit on 13 par. 5 was a key moment in Torque’s close battle with the Stinger GC, who was looking for a second straight team win after winning the title in Tulsa.
“My irons weren’t very good today,” Pereira said. “I’m happy to finish third and of course I wanted to win. But we won as a team, so that’s sick too.
David Puig, a 21-year-old from Spain and the youngest LIV Golf player of the season, gave the Torque his best result, 6 under 66, which tied Grace in the first round of the day.
Sebastián Muñoz added 70 to tie for fourth on the individual leaderboard.
The win moved Torque to third in the team standings behind last year’s champions, 4Aces GC and Stinger GC. But Torque captain Joaquin Niemann likes how his team is doing in the second half of the 14-event season.
“We’ve already won twice and of course the last win at the end of the year is more important,” said Niemann, pointing to the Team Championship. “I think it’s a good way to prove to all the other teams that we are the team to beat.”
As for Varner, his plans to celebrate his first US victory include a round of golf on Monday with friends at the city’s golf course.
“I love playing golf,” he said. “It’s my favorite thing. I’m going to play tomorrow. It will be amazing. (courtesy of livgolf.com)
Team counting results
1. Torque GC (-27): David Puig 66, Sebastián Muñoz 70, Mito Pereira 71 (3rd place: -9)
2. Stinger KG (-24): Branden Grace 66, Charl Schwartzel 70, Louis Oosthuizen 71 (Rd. 3 result: -9)
3. RangeGoats KG (-19): Harold Varner III 68, Talor Gooch 71, Wade Ormsby* 73 (Rd. 3 result: -4)
4. GC crushers (-15): Bryson DeChambeau 70, Charles Howell III 70, Anirban Lahiri 71 (Rd. 3 result: -5)
5. GC Majestics (-14): Henrik Stenson 71, Laurie Canter 71, Lee Westwood 72 (Rd. 3 score: 27)
6. KG Aces (-14): Pat Perez 71, Peter Uihlein 71, Dustin Johnson 73 (Rd. 3 result: -1)
7. Cleeks GC (-10): Graeme McDowell 71, Martin Kaymer 71, Bernd Wiesberger 71 (Rd. 3 result: -3)
8. KG Iron Heads (-9): Scott Vincent 69, Danny Lee 72, Kevin Na 72 (Rd. 3 result: -3)
9. KG Fireballs (-8): Carlos Ortiz 70, Abraham Ancer 74, Sergio Garcia 74 (Rd. 3 result: +2)
10. HyFlyers GC (-8): Cameron Tringale 70, Brendan Steele 71, Phil Mickelson 76 (3rd: +1)
11. KG Ripper (-7): Matt Jones 69, Marc Leishman 72, Cameron Smith 72 (Rd. 3 result: -3)
12. Smash GC (+2): Brooks Koepka 70, *Kieran Vincent 72, Chase Koepka 72 (Rd. 3 result: -2)