Harman refuses to be overlooked

By Rex HoggardMay 8, 2017, 12:35 am

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A few years ago a well-intentioned but misinformed scribe asked Brian Harman if he felt pressure to get his first PGA Tour victory considering how many of his friends from college had already gotten on the Big League board.

“Um, I won . . . I won the John Deere [Classic],” he frowned.

The scribe’s inability to do simple homework aside, the 5-foot-7 Georgia native is often overlooked for all the wrong reasons.

Harman’s victory at the 2014 John Deere Classic was wedged between Martin Kaymer’s blistering start to the season with victories at The Players and U.S. Open, and Rory McIlroy’s walk-off finish with triumphs at The Open and PGA Championship.

Tough company.

Nor is Harman flashy. He’s 122nd on Tour in driving distance, 74th in eagles made and 131st in greens in regulation, but then he’s never seen a birdie putt that he couldn’t charge into the hole.

But if most players try to ignore such distractions, Harman lets the cellophane-man persona drive him. From his days as an all-everything junior to his career at Tour Player U., um, the University of Georgia, it has always appeared as if he plays every shot with something to prove.

This week at the Wells Fargo Championship was certainly no different.

“I would be lying if I didn't say I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I mean, this is the first time I've been interviewed all week,” Harman said.

Even on Sunday as the leaderboard turned into a revolving door of would-be winners, Harman plugged away largely under the radar. All told, five players held at least a share of the lead on a postcard afternoon at Eagle Point Golf Club.

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There was Patrick Reed, who struggled early and often with his ball-striking, and Jon Rahm, the world-beater-in-waiting who has just four finishes outside the top 15 in his Tour career (12 starts). Pat Perez made a cameo atop the board, as did Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1 who was making his first start since taking a tumble down a flight of stairs on the eve of the Masters and injured his lower back.

It was the latter that resonated with Harman as day turned to dusk along the North Carolina coast.

No one in the world had been able to do what Harman accomplished on Sunday since the second week of February, but with a bold closing hole and back-to-back birdies to finish his day he became the first player to beat Johnson since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Even the powers that be at Eagle Point appeared to be caught flat-footed by Harman’s victory.

“Well, they had the [winner’s] jacket 40 long, so I think they already had it set up for Dustin,” he smiled. “He's a tough cookie, man. Whatever he shot, 3, 4 over in the second round, then the weekend he shoots, what, 4 under, 5 under? He's tough.”

After a relatively quiet opening nine on Sunday, Harman made his move with birdies at the 12th and 14th holes, where he took a share of the lead with Rahm, but at No. 15 he three-putted from 40 feet.

Since that victory at the ’14 John Deere, Harman had been close on numerous occasions. He’d finished in the top 25 eight times this season, including a tie for third at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January. But each time something hadn’t gone his way, and with each near miss the questions grew louder, the doubt became more pervasive.

“It's very hard to stay patient because you know what it feels like to win, you know what it takes,” Harman said. “You feel like you're capable of it but it just doesn't happen, and then it doesn't happen again and it doesn't happen again, and then that's where the doubt starts to creep in.”

It would have been easy, for example, to succumb to the pressure after his three-putt at the 15th hole, to limp in and take your top-10 finish before getting on the road to next week’s Players Championship.

But Harman forged ahead, hitting a daring drive at the 17th hole over the corner, and sent his wedge shot to 5 feet for birdie to move back into a share of the lead with Johnson and Perez. At the finishing hole, he flushed his drive 317 yards, his third-longest drive of the week, to set the stage for the kind of finish every player dreams about.

Harman wanted to hit 5-wood from 270 yards. His caddie, Scott Tway, talked him into hitting 3-wood, which flew the green. “If I had it to do over again I would have hit 5-wood,” he said.

His second shot sailed left and nestled up to the grandstands and his chip shot just rolled onto the green, leaving 28 feet for birdie and the outright lead with two groups remaining on the course.

It had been 83 starts since Harman won the John Deere, and as his birdie putt at the 72nd hole traversed the green and dropped into the hole, the emotions that build up after so much time erupted in predictable fashion.

“The first win was really big, it was big for everybody, but after getting one and playing a couple years this was validation,” Tway said.

In the awkward moments that followed that scribe’s uneducated question a few years ago, the silence was broken by another who asked: Do you feel pressure to get your second Tour victory?

Not anymore.

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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Tee times

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.