Tiger's message to Varner's friend provides inspiration
4 Min Read
Written by Helen Ross @helen_pgatour
CHARLOTTE – Harold Varner was beyond thrilled to see his buddy, Tiger Woods, complete his phenomenal comeback and win the Masters a little over two weeks ago.
But what the former world No. 1 golfer did earlier that week at Augusta National touched Varner so much more.
Varner had asked Woods if he would send a message to encourage a childhood friend who is battling stage IV colon cancer. On Wednesday, the eve of the Masters, the video finally arrived.
“It's just giving me chills right now just how it went down,” Varner said Tuesday before he headed out to practice in advance of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Varner sent the video to his friend, Daniel Meggs, who played two years at Wake Forest and later found his calling as a teaching pro at TPC Piper Glen. He was, as you can imagine, thrilled by the message.
“He sent the greatest reply ever -- he said, ‘Well, I can die now,” Varner recalled. “We're laughing. He's like, ‘No, man, it's really cool. I needed this.’”
Meggs even told Varner that he had a premonition that Woods might win the Masters. After all, Meggs’ 29th birthday was that Sunday.
“And 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 just super awesome. Like I didn't do anything, but the joy that I got out of like seeing him talk to me, I just can't put it into words.”
The video lasted all of 17 seconds. In it, Woods encouraged Meggs to stay strong and to remain hopeful. He told him he was “an inspiration to all of us.”
The message resonated with Meggs, particularly given Woods’ hard-fought return to the pinnacle of the game after four back surgeries.
“He’s been at the point where he couldn’t walk and he comes back and is arguably the best player on the planet again,” Meggs told Charlotte TV station WCNC. “It gives you hope that people can come back and if you work hard, you can beat this.”
Meggs was supposed to walk inside the ropes with Varner – and maybe even caddie for a couple of holes -- on Tuesday as he played a nine-hole practice round at Quail Hollow. But Varner got a text from Meggs saying that he woke up with a fever and was headed to the doctor.
The cancer was discovered two years ago. Meggs was giving a lesson to a doctor and fell forward in pain when he bent down to tee the ball up. He described his symptoms, and when the doctor felt the lump in his abdomen, he was concerned.
A colonoscopy confirmed the bad news, and after further examination, doctors determined the cancer had spread to his liver. A week before his wedding to his high school sweetheart, Meggs underwent his first round of chemotherapy.
The last time Varner, who grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina, actually saw Meggs was the Sunday night after the Wells Fargo Championship ended last year. Varner hadn’t played particularly well, so he finished early.
He went to a local pub with some friends before heading to Virginia to play in Marc Leishman’s charity event the following day. Meggs and his wife were there, too. Varner went over, sat down and talked with the couple. He came away inspired.
“He doesn't know it, but like the way he carries himself through a time like this, I don't think many people will or would,” Varner said. “Talking to him just gives me so much like, you know, excitement like for life.
“He doesn't have much of it, but like the fact that he gets that much excitement over just the little bit that he has makes this easy.”
Recently, someone who is close to Meggs reached out to Varner, and the Tiger plan was hatched. Varner is eternally grateful to the 15-time major champion.
“For him to do that, I thought that was very ‑‑ I mean, who am I? I'm nobody,” Varner said. “I just shouted out there and it worked.
“But this guy's still fighting for his life, though, no matter what. For him to be excited about Tiger, you know, just kind of ‑‑ I don't know, man, it just messes with me. I think it's pretty awesome."
Meggs also received a phone call from Jack Nicklaus and a signed photo, mentioning the good old days, from Rickie Fowler, another friend from junior golf. Friends have started a GoFundMe page.
The gestures have meant a lot. And Meggs remains positive in his battle.
“From what I hear, the updates that I get, that he's having trouble, like can he have surgery, can he have chemo and how it affects his body,” Varner said. “He's just fighting, man. Every time I talk to him on the phone, it's just so encouraging.
“Never worry about anything, just full speed ahead. It's easy to say you would do that, but for him to be in that position and actually do it is something else, I think.”