Profile: Harman a rookie focused on the long run
- By Ryan Ballengee
- May 22, 2012 11:14 AM ET
Brian Harman is not a self-promoter. He wants his golf game to do all the talking.
"I'm not going to wear crazy clothes, probably not going to have my own website," Harman said last week. "I play golf because I want to contend in and win golf tournaments. That's where I get my gratification. If I get a bunch of fans doing that, then that would be awesome."
The left-handed rookie from Georgia may be able to have his cake and eat it, too. Harman is enjoying a solid campaign on the PGA Tour, earning $473,018 in 14 starts. The 25-year-old is living the dream which spawned near Savannah, Ga., in the late 90s in the Southbridge neighborhood.
"I started playing golf with some of the kids around the neighborhood, kind of after school, just messing around," he said. "I fell in love with the game."
Harman's parents and his brother didn't play golf, but they realized their son's southpaw tendency on the baseball diamond.
"They got me a right-handed baseball glove so I could throw left-handed," he said. "Every time they threw me the ball, I'd catch it right the glove in my right hand, then take the glove off and throw it back to them."
Golf is the only thing he does as a lefty, but Harman said he can hit it "pretty good" from the other side.
As a teen, Harman had the golf bug. He subscribed to magazines so that could learn about tournament golf. Eventually, he convinced his mom to take him to a nine-hole tournament on St. Simons Island. Harman shot 34 and won by six shots.
After high school, Harman went to the University of Georgia in Athens. Friends warned him the school had not been producing many PGA Tour players.
"That was just kind of the knock on the program," he said. "We didn't have guys on the PGA Tour. Then I get to school and we're winning tournaments, and the guys that were on our team are good golfers. It got me thinking. How good do you have to be to play on the PGA Tour? Is it that hard?"
Today, four of the five starters from Harman's freshman year are on the PGA Tour. Harman credits coach Chris Haack for building a program with guys like him, Harris English, Russell Henley and others.
Harman's path to the PGA Tour, however, was not a straight line.
"I definitely had more confidence that I was going to make it when I was 13 or 14 than I did a couple of years ago," he said. "It's a tough gig to break into, that's for sure."
Last December, Harman finished T-8 at Q-School to earn his PGA Tour card. With that path from mini-tours to the show soon requiring a detour through the Nationwide Tour, Harman is glad to be among the last of a dying breed.
"Think of all the things that can happen to someone," he said. "You might wake up tomorrow and you can't play golf anymore. You might get in a car wreck."
The fleeting nature of success is what keeps drives him to maintain his PGA Tour lot.
"To be honest, I still have the eGolf Tour website on my phone, just to keep me as humble as possible," he said. "I try not to ever take it for granted because you don't know how long it's going to be here."
At No. 99 on the money list, Harman is either on the cusp of locking up status for 2013 or a bad spell away from a return to Q-School. Having thrust himself onto the Tour in rather sudden fashion, it's hard for Harman not to worry on a shot-by-shot basis.
"That's the first reaction you have, the first time things start going bad - 'Oh, I better start playing better or I'm not going to have a job next year'," he said.
Harman is working hard to make the transition from to having a dream job to holding a steady career. His desire to win this season makes that task difficult.
"My expectations are probably too high," he said. "I get down on myself really easily. The guys that get out there and make a lot of money are the guys who know how to manage their emotions."
Rather than ride the highs of low rounds like the second-round 61 at the Honda Classic or the 64 to open at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Harman knows the key is maintaining calm without his best stuff.
“They tell you that 80 or 90 percent of your money is made in three or four weeks,” he said. “It just goes to show you, you've got to play well when you're playing well and figure out how to play well when you're not. Other than the freaks out there – Tiger and Phil, they're just good all the time.”
Instead of living and dying with each shot, Harman is working to improve for the long-term.
“The more you see the big picture and look at your golf game as a career, not tournament-by-tournament, the better,” he said, “Whatever happens from there, happens. If it works out, then great. If it doesn't, try again.”
Harman’s recently revised vision of an ideal woman demonstrates his ability to see well into the future. Jessica Biel has replaced Megan Fox in his dream foursome. At 5-foot-7, Harman expresses pragmatism in wanting a taller woman – even if only by an inch.
"I'm a short guy," he said, "so I figure I got to find me a tall girl to give my kids a fighting chance."
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