FORT WORTH, Texas — The question comes, invariably, somewhere in the middle of each media session with Harold Varner III. About racial inequality. About the statement he made on George Floyd, which was one of the first from anyone in the golf world. About the PGA Tour’s decision to keep the 8:46 a.m. tee time vacant.

He answers honestly and thoughtfully.

But when it came Friday, after Varner’s 66 pushed him into the second-round lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the East Carolina grad made it clear — he’s here to win a golf tournament, first and foremost.

Varner opened Friday’s play at Colonial Country Club with a triple-bogey on No. 10, a setback that could have been a dealbreaker, but he kept fighting back and all that stood between him and par for the day was a 10-footer on the par-3 16th hole.


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He was preparing to putt when the 8:46 a.m. break came.

“After making the triple I was just fighting for my life. I was just kind of — they told me not to putt, and I was like — I just wanted to make that putt just to get me back to even. I was really just focused on playing some good golf,” Varner said. “It’s pretty cool that the Tour is doing that, but when you’re out there, you’re just so in the moment. Well, I was anyway. I don’t know, man, I was just trying to make a birdie.”

And the birdies kept coming. In fact, Varner finished by rolling in birdie putts on five of his final six holes to jump atop the leaderboard. At 11-under, Varner has a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau. Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy are tied for third at 9-under heading into the weekend.