Varner, the 2012 Conference-USA Golfer of the Year, was just below the cutline going into play on Friday. However, a disappointing performance cost him his shot at continuing on in the tournament.
Varner’s undoing was a poor start. In his first six holes, he failed to make par on all but one of them—recording four bogeys and a double bogey to finish six-over after the first six holes.
The opening round wasn’t all bad for Varner, though. He rebounded nicely from his rough start with three birdies. With darkness halting play, Varner finished the day with a bogey on No. 10. He completed the first round six-over, with a total score of 76.
After being on the cusp of qualifying for the rest of the U.S. Open, Varner found himself even further out of contention entering play on Saturday. He went in tied for 135th and needed to climb all the way to 60th to make the cut. A feat that proved to be too much.
Varner qualified for the U.S. Open sectional in Rockville, MD after shooting a 68 at a tournament in Wallace, NC. He went on to shoot five-under (136) in the 36-hole tournament at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, overcoming a three-way playoff to earn the final spot on the field at the sectional.
Despite getting cut from the weekend field, the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Open sectional is quite an accomplishment for the 22-year-old rookie and should prove to be a tremendous learning experience.
"Playing alongside the best in the world is a dream come true for him,” said ECU Head Golf Coach Press McPhaul. “From the time he set foot on campus, he was focused on graduating and developing as an athlete, while diligently maintaining a positive attitude and strong work ethic every day. We are proud to have him represent us at the U.S. Open."
Varner led the Pirates to a pair of NCAA Regional appearances in 2011 and 2012. He also claimed a spot as an individual in 2010, making him the only player in ECU history to compete in the NCAA Regional three times. He also holds ECU’s record for best career scoring average.
Grayson Murray, a former ECU golfer that transferred to UNC-Greensboro, also failed to make the cut at Merion Golf Club. A series of five consecutive bogeys set the amateur back and he finished 13-over (83).
Murray graduated from Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, NC. Before ECU, he played for Wake Forrest for a brief time. He is ineligible to play for UNCG until this Fall.