Varner III Hits Bizarre Anti-Shank En Route To 81

In the aftermath of Brooks Koepka’s march to his fourth major championship, it felt like it was weeks ago when his playing partner, Harold Varner III, picked up two shots on the eventual champion on the first hole of the final round.

Playing in the biggest spot of his career, Varner III reached the final group by shooting back-to-back rounds of 3-under par 67 on Friday and Saturday to post 5-under par and earn a spot in the final pairing.

However, Varner III’s run at the title ended up being short-lived as a wayward tee shot at the par-3 3rd hole led to a three-putt double bogey and a disastrous 7 on the par-5 4th hole signaled the end of his run.  

Playing as the easiest hole by far on Sunday at Bethpage Black, the 517-yard par-5 was straight downwind, which assured nearly everyone in the field had the firepower to reach the green in two.

Despite having only 189 yards into the green for his second shot, Varner III’s ball found some heavy rough left of the fairway and what happened next was extremely rare for a professional golfer. 

Varner III’s club was so affected by the rough that on-course analyst Peter Kostis surmised that the ball hit the inside of the hosel — an anti-shank — and shot even further left into the trees.

A short search proved futile, and Varner III had to drop where he struggled to strike his last shot. From there he was able to reach the green in two more shots, but the damage had been done.

Varner would go on to shoot an 11-over par 81 to drop from a tie for second place into a tie for 36th. 

“Man, it’s just rough. It was hard,” Varner III said after the round. “It was really hard. I just didn’t play well enough. It was a great experience. I’m going to get a lot better. It’s just a hard golf course.

“That’s kind of what you play for. That’s my first time there, and I can’t wait to get back there and see how I can improve. So it’s alright. I’m obviously a little pissed right now. You want to do well. I don’t know who doesn’t. I’m going to get a lot better from it.”