PGA Tour returns: Harold Varner III and Justin Rose share heads at Colonial

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Justin Rose and his game partners tried to follow social distancing guidelines during their turn
Charles Schwab Challenge, first round of ranking
-7 J Rose (ing), H Varner III (United States); -6 J Vegas (Fri), A Ancer (Mex), C Morikawa (US), J Thomas (US)
Selected: -5 T Lehman (United States), J Spieth (United States), X Schauffele (United States); -4 I Poulter (Eng); -2 R McIlroy (NI), B Koepka (United States), M Fitzpatrick (Eng); -1 G McDowell (NI), S Garcia (Spa), J Rahm (Spa)

American Harold Varner III birdied in the 18th to take part in the first round with Britain’s Justin Rose when he returned from the PGA Tour Thursday in Texas.

The two players hit 63-seven sub-par without a bogey in a quiet Colonial Country Club, with no fans present.

Northern Ireland’s world number one Rory McIlroy pulled a 68-2 under par.

Beginners observed a minute of poignant silence at 8:46 a.m. local time in memory of George Floyd, the African-American who died in police custody.

Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the time it takes to shoot Floyd below the white officer’s knee. His funeral was held in Houston, Texas on Tuesday.

Varner III, one of the few black American professional players on the circuit, spoke at length with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan before this week’s Charles Schwab challenge. They discussed the “potential role of the tour in national conversation and the solution” amid global protests for the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice.

On the course, Varner III had a birdie in his first two holes and ended the game with less than four points after nine. He then had a birdie in the 10th and 12th holes, but missed opportunities to join Rose at the top of the standings before drilling 10 feet on the last.

When asked if Floyd’s death and global protests had affected his game, he told Sky Sports, “I didn’t think about it. I entered my area. I love to play golf and I have the chance to do it for a living.

“The platform I have is golf, so I know playing well is one of them. It shows how precious life is and you take what it is every day. ”

Rose, who went out in the first half of the draw, started at the 10th hole and escaped from the edge of the green with a fairway wood to open with a birdie.

He had four goals under seven and told Sky Sports, “I didn’t play the first six or seven holes particularly well, but the putter was hot. ”

Rose, who won this tournament in 2018 with four rounds of 66 or better, then had a streak of three birdies from the first before finishing with six consecutive pars.

This is the first PGA Tour event to be played since the players’ league was dropped after a round on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first five tournaments take place behind closed doors, but the Tour hopes to have fans at the Memorial event in July.

Renowned group does not shoot while friends’ fortunes fluctuate

McIlroy missed several birdie chances on a frustrating comeback

The top three worlds, McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka were all drawn to play together. The three made it through the first birdie, but were unable to continue.

McIlroy was back at an even level after bogeying the sixth but was two cents behind. However, nine consecutive pars followed.

American Koepka, ranked third in the world, collected four birdies and two bogeys in two under 68, while Spaniard Rahm bogeyed last to finish against normal.

The group ahead of them included American friends Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, who shared an “air high-five” as they finished on the 18th.

The world number four Thomas had the right to boast with a six under 64, to take a lead with Jhonattan Vegas, Abraham Ancer and Collin Morikawa.

Spieth, who fell to 56th in the world rankings, is one of nine players one stroke back on five pennies, but Fowler had four bogeys in his last five holes to make three more.

Elsewhere, Ian Poulter posted a solid four-sub-66, while fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick joined McIlroy with two hits.

Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell is on a sub, with Englishman Matt Wallace a return shot after carding a 70, while compatriot Danny Willett took 71 shots.

Listen to live commentary from Friday’s second round and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website.

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