Former Pirate Varner To Play In U.S. Open

East Carolina University

ARDMORE, Pa. --- Former East Carolina golfer Harold Varner was one of five alternates from U.S. Open sectional qualifying added to the field of 156 for the 113th U.S. Open Championship the United States Golf Association (UGSGA) announced Monday.

The tournament is being held at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. and will begin Thursday, June 13. Varner is paired with the Wil Collins of the United States and Kevin Phelan of Ireland. The trio will tee-off No. 11 at 9:01 a.m.

The USGA held six spots in the field for those players who could potentially qualify by being in the current top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Kyle Stanley was the only player to improve his ranking this past weekend and earned an exemption based on his current Official World Golf Ranking of No. 60. Since Stanley was the only player to earn an exemption, five alternates from sectional qualifying made the field. Mike Weir, Ryan Palmer, Ryan Yip and Rikard Karlberg were the other alternates selected.

Varner was the first alternate from the Rockville, Md. sectional. He carded a 5-under 136 during the 36-hole tournament at Woodmont Country Club to tie for eighth-place, forcing a three-way playoff for the final qualifying spot for the sectional. Varner finished second in the playoff to earn the first alternate spot.

He advanced to the sectional after shooting a 68 at a local qualifying tournament at River Landing Country Club in Wallace, N.C.

Varner is just the second ECU golfer to participate in the U.S. Open. John Maginnes, a four-lettermen from 1987-91, competed in the 1995, 2002 and 2003 championship, finishing tied for 28th in 2003.

"We are so delighted as a golf program and a university that Harold is being rewarded with this special opportunity to compete for our national championship," ECU Head Golf Coach Press McPhaul said. "Playing alongside the best in the world is a dream come true for him. 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 everyday. We are proud to have him represent us at the U.S. Open."

The 2012 Conference USA Golfer-of-the-Year, Varner holds the school record for career scoring average and is the only player at ECU to compete in a NCAA Regional three times. He led the Pirates to a pair of team appearances in 2011 and '12 after earning an at-large bid as an individual in 2010.

Varner currently plays professionally on the eGolf Tour.