Varner sinks long putt on 18th to win Saudi International

Feb 5, 2022, 4:13 PM | Updated: Feb 6, 2022, 9:26 am

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Harold Varner III holed a 90-foot putt for eagle on the final hole Sunday to go from one shot behind to a stunning victory in the Saudi International.

Varner finished with a 1-under 69 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club for his second victory worldwide. This was an Asian Tour event; and Varner previously won the Australia PGA.

Varner faced a tough task to even two-putt for birdie and force a playoff with Bubba Watson. He did one better, a putt that went from one end of the 18th green to the other. Varner threw his putter to the ground and pumped his arms to celebrate.

“There’s been times where it just didn’t go my way and today it did,” Varner said. “Worst-case scenario, we’ll go to a playoff and I’d get him there. And then it went in, and emotions came out. I love that.”

Varner finished at 13-under 267. He won $1 million from the $5 million prize fund, along with whatever appearance money he received from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that attracted 21 of the top 50 players in the world.

The victory moves Varner, who was at No. 99, into the top 50 for the first time. If he can stay there for two more months, he would get to the Masters for the first time.

Varner also birdied the 17th, just the finish he needed to deny Watson, who closed with a 64.

Watson jogged over from the clubhouse to congratulate Varner.

“I’m not mad at him for beating me. I’m happy for him. He’s a dear friend of mine, and I applaud him. I love seeing that,” Watson said.

Adri Arnaus of Spain had a 71 to finish three shots behind. Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 70 and tied for eighth.

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Varner sinks long putt on 18th to win Saudi International