Varner, 27, proved a popular winner with the Australian public last year; the affable American endeared himself to golf fans Down Under with laidback approach to the tournament and genuine joy following his breakthrough title on the Gold Coast.
The enthusiasm hasn’t wavered from the Ohio native who said he’s excited to be back for the third consecutive year, this time as the holder of the Kirkwood Cup.
“I’m super excited, I’ve been out of the country (U.S) for three weeks, so I played Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and I played Hong Kong last week,” said Varner, who will conclude his golf season for 2017 after the Australian PGA Championship.
“I’m starting to play well again and hopefully we can rekindle some of the flame from last year.”
The familiar surroundings have set Varner at ease ahead of his title defense and he has noticed improvements to the Graham Marsh designed layout.
“I was thinking about the first time I came here and how I didn’t know anyone, didn’t know where to hit it, and now I feel like I have an idea what to do. And how different the course has matured the last three years because the first time I played it, I think that was the first time they opened the course since the redesign.
“Just seeing how it’s easier, but I think I just played really well, so just excited for the challenge and just ready to compete.”
Varner admittedly said his form following the 2016 Australian PGA Championship has been less than stellar and today revealed he was dealing with personal issues off the course that had a bigger impact on his game then he thought it would.
“Last year after this tournament I obviously didn’t play much golf. This year I’m going to stay in Australia for another week, and then I’m going to go to California.
“I think I just want to do well all the time, period. I think after I got my card, she (Varner’s girlfriend) looked at me and she said, ‘well, it’s going to be all right no matter if you had your card or not.’” Varner added.
“And that’s what it’s about to me because at the end of the day, golf is not always going to be there. I’ll play it, but she’ll always be there and that’s the most important to me. That’s how I grew up, that’s how my parents are. They’re going to love me if I finish dead last in this tournament. If I win it, it doesn’t matter.
“So people like that, those are the people I want around me.”
Varner said the tough weeks following his euphoric win in 2016 has taught him some valuable life lessons and is now set for this week’s title defense.
“I learned a lot, I grew up, and I just want to have a chance to win this week and I’m just really excited. It feels good to be back, though.”
Varner will tee off at 11.10am playing alongside Marc Leishman and Matt Jones.