BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Harold Varner III is unapologetically himself at all times.
For that very reason, the 32-year-old was a fan favorite on the PGA Tour over the last few years and a prime target for LIV Golf. It’s been just three weeks shy of a year since HV3 took his talents to the upstart circuit with a refreshingly honest announcement, and over 16 starts he’s earned seven top-10 finishes, including his first win at LIV Golf Washington, D.C., back in May.
Golfweek caught up with Varner during his pro-am ahead of this week’s 2023 LIV Golf Bedminster event at Trump National in New Jersey and discussed everything from his time with LIV to the framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and more.
What do you make of your first full year with LIV? How does it compare to last year?
“It’s been awesome. I think there’s more people. Obviously with the merger, I think it’s easing some minds and hearts I think. It’s pretty crazy. So my thing has been, I still like playing golf. I want to be good at golf. So I don’t worry about too much else.”
Are there any changes you’d make?
“I don’t really have a say on that. I don’t really care. I just want to keep playing for a lot of money. It’s fun. I just want to keep enjoying it. I love my schedule.”
You mentioned it earlier, what do you think of the framework agreement between the PIF and the two Tours?
“I don’t care. I don’t care because it’s not going to go into effect right now. They’re not gonna figure it out for a while. That’s just not my job. No one’s asked me like, ‘Hey, what do you think we should do to get you back in?’ I just get to play golf.”
Varner said he doesn’t think players that return to the Tour should necessarily have their same status as when they left. If he were to return – which seems far from likely, more on that to come – Varner thinks he should go to the Korn Ferry Tour.
“Now, with saying that, I also don’t think people on the PGA Tour should get compensated for being loyal. I think that’s (expletive). I don’t think anyone should, you had the option to go.”
Would you want to come back and play on the PGA Tour?
“There’s a couple of tournaments I want to play, but other than that, no, I like it here. Why would I go? I love the team format. I don’t think I can speak for everyone but I can definitely speak for myself.”
When you announced your move you mentioned how you planned to use the money. What impact have you been able to make on your community and with your foundation?
“I think it’s really good if you just do it and don’t talk about it,” he replied with a chuckle. “A number matters to the people that receive it, but what matters the most is just knowing how much it means to you.”
Varner and his wife, Amanda, made a recent investment in their alma mater, East Carolina University, that will be the lead gift on the expansion to the men’s and women’s golf practice facility.
“The foundation, we just keep doing what we’re doing,” he added. “Keep trying to help kids.”
The HV3 Foundation gives kids affordable access to golf and mentorships to help empower the next generation.
You caused a stir when you said players were “full of (expletive)” talking about growing the game. Any blowback from that comment?
“I don’t know, they aren’t going to say it to my face if so. Man, we didn’t come here to grow the game,” he reiterated. “We came here to make money and have fun and that’s what we’re doing, so just say that’s what we’re doing.”
Varner was critical of LIV and noted how the league could expose its charitable acts more, “because that’s what people want to see.” He was also complimentary of the PGA Tour for doing so, while also noting the necessity for the Tour to do so as a non-profit 501(c)(3).
This week at Trump National Bedminster, LIV hosted a clinic on the driving range for Hope Through Education with the help of Crushers GC’s Bryson DeChambeau and Anirban Lahiri. Phil Mickelson’s HyFlyers also hosted a clinic for adaptive golfers.
What's the biggest misconception about LIV?
“That LIV’s not serious. I think it’s harder to win for $4 million than it to win a PGA Tour event. When you get in contention out here, it’s like, (expletive), that’s life-changing money. And I play for money. “
Has your life changed?
“Hell yeah. People that tell you money doesn’t change you are (expletive) stupid. I get to help a lot of people, get to do what I want to do when I want to do it, that’s why people work, it’s a (expletive) job.”