CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Tiger effect spans multitudes. Take this story from Harold Varner III.
The year was 2004 and Varner was a wide-eyed 13-year-old when Tiger Woods played his first Wells Fargo Championship (then the Wachovia Championship).
“Pissed, so mad,” laughed Varner on Tuesday, recalling the time Woods blew past him as he tried to snag an autograph on the road between the clubhouse and the player parking lot. “I was like, ‘Dude, come on,’ and he walked right by me.”
Years later, Varner reminded his boyhood hero of getting blown off. What came out of it was a teaching moment from the player whom Varner idolized.
“I’ll never forget the first time we played together, we were walking up 18 and I was like, ‘Man, you didn’t sign my autograph,’” Varner said. “He’s like, ‘That’s probably why you’re here right now, you probably got mad.’ I was like, ‘You’re right.’”
In the years since, the two have become friends and often played practice rounds together. Varner is eager to soak up whatever he can from the 15-time major champion. One of those pieces of advice, for example, is that playing golf on tour is like reading a book with the TV on.
This week, though, Varner will have to go it alone. Woods isn’t in the field.
When Varner heard that Woods was skipping this year’s tournament, he sent Woods a text expressing his disappointment.
“Yeah, I was bummed,” Varner said with another laugh. “But yeah, I’m pissed.”
As for that autograph?
“No,” Varner said. “I never got it.”
I don’t think he minds.