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LOS ANGELES – Harold Varner III, who was the first player in East Carolina University history to be named Conference USA Golfer of the Year in 2012, has been awarded the 2014 Northern Trust Open Exemption and will make his second-career start on the PGA TOUR, following a berth in the U.S. Open field last year. Varner has full status on Web.com Tour this season after finishing T32 at the final stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. In 2007, he won the Nature Valley First Tee Open as a junior with Champions Tour pro and teammate Morris Hatalsky.
With the 2014 Northern Trust Open less than a month away, Varner, 23, was chosen from a pool of applicants to receive the exemption, created and sponsored by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS). The annual exemption provides an opportunity for a top golfer who represents the advancement of diversity in golf and wouldn't otherwise be eligible to compete in the event. The 2014 Northern Trust Open returns to The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., February 12-16.
"On behalf of Northern Trust, we are pleased to give the Northern Trust Open Exemption to Harold Varner III. Harold is a talented golfer whose enthusiasm for competition is infectious," said Northern Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick H. Waddell. We look forward to watching him play at Riviera next month.
Previous Northern Trust Open Exemption recipients include Vincent Johnson (2009), Joshua Wooding (2010), Joseph Bramlett (2011), Andy Walker (2012) and Jeremiah Wooding (2013).
"I am so thrilled, honored and humbled to receive the Northern Trust Open Exemption, and I'd like to thank Northern Trust and the PGA TOUR for this incredible opportunity," said Varner. "Not only will I be competing with the world's best players in one of the game's most historic tournaments on one of its most legendary golf courses, but I will also have the chance to use this exemption as a way to shine a light on the past, present and future for minorities in the sport I love and cherish. As a young African-American golfer, my goal is to play the sport at its highest level and make an impact on future generations of golfers, regardless of their skin color. The Northern Trust Open Exemption will greatly assist me in achieving that goal."
Varner attended Forestview High in Gastonia, N.C., where he was a four-year letterman and led his team to a second-place finish in the 2007 and 2008 North Carolina 3A State Championships; he was a runner-up as an individual those same years. At ECU, he made the All-Conference USA team three times, posted 18 top-10 finishes and set the school record for lowest-career scoring average his senior year. He also became the first golfer in school history to break 200 in a 54-hole tournament and led the Pirates to their first-ever NCAA Finals appearance, finishing 12th in 2011.
Varner qualified for the U.S. Open at Merion during his first full year as a professional (missed the cut) and has played in 22 events on the eGolf Tour, posting 12 top-10 finishes, including two wins.
Now in its sixth year, the Northern Trust Open Exemption is an extension of Northern Trust's commitment to diversity. Northern Trust has received multiple awards for corporate excellence and diversity, including being named a "Best Company for Working Mothers" by Working Mother Magazine for 20 years, a "Best Company for Diverse Graduates" by Diversity Edge Magazine, a "50 Best Companies for Latinas" by LATINA Style Magazine and one of the "40 Best Companies for Diversity" by Black Enterprise magazine.
Candidates for the 2014 Northern Trust Open Exemption were identified through a number of sources including the PGA TOUR, PGA of America through the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, Web.com Tour, The First Tee, World Golf Foundation, USGA and the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association, with additional outreach efforts to potential recipients of Hispanic and Asian descent both in the United States and internationally. Candidates are asked to provide general biographical information, details of their golf accomplishments and an explanation of how they have represented the advancement of diversity in golf. In order to qualify for the exemption, applicants must have a USGA handicap of zero or better.
The Northern Trust Open has a long history of promoting inclusion among minorities. In 1952, the tournament welcomed Joe Louis as the first African-American to compete in a PGA sanctioned event. In 2009, the inaugural tournament exemption was named in honor of Charlie Sifford on the 40th anniversary of his victory at the 1969 Northern Trust Open.
For more information, visit www.northerntrustopen.com.
About the Northern Trust Open
The 2014 Northern Trust Open will be held February 12-16. The Northern Trust Open is one of the longest-running tournaments on the PGA TOUR. Debuting in 1926 at Los Angeles Country Club, the event had been staged at various courses throughout the Los Angeles area before permanently settling at The Riviera Country Club in 1973. City of Hope was named the official charity of the Northern Trust Open beginning with the 2013 event. In 2013, the Northern Trust Open generated $1.3 million to benefit City of Hope, the event's official charity partner, and other non-profit organizations in the Los Angeles area. The total generated for Los Angeles charities since the event's inception in 1926 is now more than $56 million.
Fans are reminded that each year, youths 18 and younger are admitted free of charge to the Northern Trust Open when accompanied by a ticketed adult. There is no limit to the number of youths 18 and younger who can attend with a ticketed adult. Also, as part of its support for the Birdies for the Brave military outreach initiative, complimentary grounds admission tickets for active duty, Reserve, military retirees, non-retired veterans and dependents to the Northern Trust Open from Wednesday through Sunday of tournament week. Must show Department of Defense issued ID along with voucher at tournament. Tickets are complimentary but a $1 verification fee per military individual does apply.
About Northern Trust
Northern Trust (Nasdaq:NTRS) is a global leader in delivering innovative investment management, asset and fund administration, fiduciary and banking solutions to corporations, institutions and affluent individuals. For more than 124 years, we have evolved with the changing needs of our clients and our world. As of September 30, 2013, Northern Trust Corporation had: $96 billion in banking assets; $5.2 trillion in assets under custody; and $846.2 billion in assets under management. For more information, visit www.northerntrust.com or follow us on Twitter @NorthernTrust.
About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope's main hospital is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, with clinics in Antelope Valley and South Pasadena. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics. For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org or follow City of Hope on facebook, twitter, youtube or flickr.