Australia and the Gold Coast quickly fell in love with Harold Varner III when he won the Australian PGA Championship and the charismatic American will return to continue his love affair with the Gold Coast and defend his 2016 title.
This will be the third time the affable American has visited the Gold Coast. His runner-up result in 2015 followed by his win last year where he held off home favourite Adam Scott and chased down another proud Queenslander, Andrew Dodt, has seen Varner treat fans to some exceptional golf.
Varner became the first international visitor in 17 years to lift the Joe Kirkwood Cup after New Zealand’s Greg Turner won in 1999.
He also became the first American to win the Australian PGA Championship since Hale Irwin in 1978.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Gold Coast for the Australian PGA Championship,” said Varner.
“Winning in Australia for my first Professional victory was pretty special and it gave me the chance to play in the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in my hometown in Akron, Ohio.
“I wouldn’t have had that opportunity without winning this tournament, hopefully I can go back-to-back and secure a spot in to Akron again.”
Varner’s laid back demeanour saw the large galleries at RACV Royal Pines Resort embrace the young American. Testament to his fun loving attitude he was also a favourite with many of the volunteers working during the week.
“I love playing golf and I love having fun. It’s easy at the Australian PGA Championship; the tournament has a great vibe and everyone is very friendly, cheering me on even though I had two great Aussie players, Andrew (Dodt) and Adam (Scott) just behind me on the leaderboard.
“The Aussie fans and volunteers were just great, it’s almost like playing in front of a home crowd again, I can’t wait to get back.”
Joining Varner at the Australian PGA Championship is fellow American and good friend Talor Gooch who graduated to the PGA TOUR this year.
The 25-year-old enjoyed a break-out season on the Web.com Tour in 2017 recording five top-10 finishes including his first Professional victory at the News Sentinel Open, earning him a full season on the PGA TOUR for 2017-2018.
“Harold’s told me so many good things about Australia and the Gold Coast. I was also watching and cheering him on last year when he won the Australian PGA Championship,” Gooch said.
“It’s my first time competing in Australia so I’ll definitely be asking Harold for a couple of pointers on the RACV Royal Pines layout as well as some of the places to check out on the Gold Coast.”
Varner and Gooch join current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Jonas Blixt, Cameron Smith and a host of other international talent for the final event on the 2017 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia calendar which is again co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
“We’re very excited to welcome back Harold Varner III, he’s been a huge hit with golf fans at the Australian PGA Championship. He was really popular both on and off the course,” said Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia.
“Young, fun and energetic are three words that spring to my mind when I think of Harold. He is the perfect fit for the Australian PGA Championship and the Gold Coast.
“Over the past two years I know he has really enjoyed his time playing our tournament but also loved getting to know our fans and sponsors as well as exploring the other leisure past times on the Gold Coast.
“Talor Gooch was one of the emerging talents coming out of the Web.com Tour in 2017, he’s an exciting young player and I’m sure he has big future ahead of him in the game,” added Kirkman.
“Harold and Talor, together with Sergio Garcia and our own Adam Scott will draw a big crowd of golf fans to RACV Royal Pines Resort to cap off a big summer of golf in Australia.”
Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said the addition of Varner further strengthened the Australian PGA Championship field.
“What we have seen over the past few weeks is the assembly of a world-class field for what is a world-class event right here on the Gold Coast,” she said.
“Harold Varner III fell in love with Australia last year, and the crowds fell in love with him too, so I am delighted he will return to defend his Australian PGA Championship title.”
“The addition of Harold to a field already including Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt is a real coup and ensures golf fans will be spoilt for choice at this year’s event.”
The Australian PGA Championship is proudly supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland’s It’s Live! in Queensland major events calendar.
The Australian PGA Championship will be played at RACV Royal Pines Resort from 30 November-3 December with tickets on sale via Ticketmaster.