CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On the eve of this year’s Masters, Tiger Woods tended to one last task before setting his mind on his quest for a fifth green jacket.
As a favor to Harold Varner III, Woods filmed an inspirational video in Augusta, Ga., for a young man battling cancer. In 17 seconds, Woods stirred Daniel Meggs, Varner’s friend from childhood who is in a fight for his life against Stage 4 colon cancer.
“Hey, Daniel,” Woods began. “I know you’re going through a difficult time. But I just want you to know that I’m pulling for you. Stay strong. And keep fighting. That’s the most important thing. Never give up hope. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Just keep hanging in there, all right. Take care, dude.”
As Varner told this story during his media session Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s start in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, he fought back his emotions. He met Meggs when he was 10 and they played a lot of junior golf together. The two kept in touch after Meggs won the Arnold Palmer scholarship to Wake Forest and went on to be a PGA teaching professional.
Two years ago, Varner, 28, learned his friend was diagnosed with cancer.
While Woods gave Varner the Heisman stiff-arm years ago when he was asked for an autograph, he welcomed the request that came a few weeks ago. Varner was home the Wednesday before the Masters when he got a call from Meggs.
“He said, ‘Well, I can die now,’” Varner said. “We’re laughing. He’s like, ‘No, man, it’s really cool. I needed this.’”
Meggs also told Varner that good things were going to happen for Woods that coming Sunday, for Meggs would celebrate his 29th birthday. Good things, it turned out, did happen for Woods, who won his 15thmajor and fifth Masters.
“I’m thinking like, I don’t really care if Tiger wins on Sunday, like how are you doing?” Varner said. “Then he won, and I called him. For like a good 20 seconds, we didn’t say anything. We just cried. It was super awesome. The joy that I got out of seeing him talk to me, I just can’t put it into words.
“It’s giving me chills right now just how it went down. (Tiger) was really genuine. It was very thought out. He just didn’t put the phone in his face and just whatever. I thought that was really cool. I just shouted out there and it worked. This guy’s still fighting for his life, no matter what. For him to be excited about Tiger, I don’t know, man, it just messes with me.”
According to WCNC-TV in Charlotte, Meggs also recently took a call from Jack Nicklaus and got a signed hat from Rickie Fowler.
“It made me feel really famous,” Daniel told WCNC. “I never really thought I would get a call from Jack Nicklaus, a video from Tiger and a hat from Rickie Fowler.”
Varner wouldn’t mind giving Meggs another victory to cheer. Varner, who grew up in nearby Gastonia, N.C., and looks to inspire children in his hometown and throughout the area, will have a large contingent of his fans and those who have benefitted from his charitable ways following him.
To put on a good show, he’ll have to turn around his recent ways. Varner himself said lately his play has been terrible as he’s missed four cuts in his last seven starts, with a tie for 23rd being his best result.
But Varner, who was supposed to be paired with Woods the first two rounds before Woods decided not to play this week, remains confident good things are ahead. And he’ll tap into advice he’s received the past few years from Woods, especially one little nugget that stands out.
“Tiger said playing golf is like reading a book with the TV on,” Varner said, meaning you learn to focus on what you need to focus on.
Wise words, Varner said, inspiring words, too. He’ll have that advice in his mind as he seeks his first PGA Tour title. And he’ll be thinking of Meggs, too.