By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Unlike the other three players who finished the morning round at 6 under, Brian Harman didn't get off to the best of starts.
While Robert Garrigus, K.J. Choi and Scott Piercy all navigated TPC Deere Run without a bogey, Harman had two in his first five holes. But the PGA TOUR rookie played his next 13 in 7 under, even making four straight birdies starting at the seventh hole.
The 20-footer at the seventh hole jump-started Harman's round. He ended up making birdie on three of his last five holes, too.
"I got off to a terrible start," Harman said. "... Like I said, I guess I knew that I was swinging well and felt good. Birdied the last three holes on the front nine and was just kind of off and running from there."
Harman, who is from Savannah, Ga., is playing in the John Deere Classic for the first time. But he already has friends in the area after playing with Gregg Ontiveros, who owns a local company called Group O, in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The two men have had dinner together, and Harman visited Ontiveros' office on Wednesday. He also came to the area several weeks ago to play in a Boys & Girls club outing.
"Everyone has kind of taken me in as their own," Harman said.
"... I love this place. Got some great food around here. Golf
course is really easy to get nut and out of. It's a great track.
"I'm from the south, so it's kind of nice being back in this hot weather and hearing some accents kind of like mine."
In Round 2 at TPC Sawgrass, Brian Harman holes his 43-yard second shot on the par-3 8th hole for birdie.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Brian Harman's first PLAYERS Championship has been nothing if not a roller-coaster ride.
The rookie came to TPC Sawgrass as the first alternate, then nearly missed the chance to play after D.A. Points withdrew with a back injury seconds before he was supposed to tee off Thursday morning. Points' playing partner, Carl Pettersson, had already hit his first shot, which limited the time to locate Harman, who was on site and ready but unable get to the tee before the next group arrived.
Several hours later, though, tournament officials made the unusual decision to insert Harman in the field. He teed off alone before the afternoon wave began.
"I got some fans yesterday," Harman said. "I saw on Twitter there was a ‘free Brian Harman’ movement. ... I thought that was hilarious."
On Friday, Harman got some company, taking Paul Casey's spot – the Brit had withdrawn with a shoulder injury -- in the 8:50 a.m. group with Bud Cauley and Ryan Moore. Harman played well, too, shooting a 68 that not only enabled him to make the cut, it put him in the mix at 3 under.
"I had a lot of people from the crowd hollering out, 'What's up,
Solo,'" the good-natured lefty said. "I said, 'Yeah, found me some
friends today.' I was telling everybody yesterday, I was the Ty
Cobb of golf, out there playing by myself.
"I really wanted to get into my own little deal out there, and you know, for me, this is a major. I feel like this is the fifth major and I wanted to be out there, just me and the golf course."
Harman started slowly on Friday, making the turn in 37 after a bogey at the 14th hole. He turned things around, though, with an 11-foot eagle putt at the second hole, then made three birdies in his next seven holes.
"I was struggling," Harman recalled. "Wasn't in a good frame of mind. Hit a really good shot on 2. Hit a big, high hybrid that stopped (11) feet from the hole and I made it for eagle. It was my first under par score of the day and that just gave me a little bit of confidence, and I just rode it all the way in, capped by that nonsense shot on 8."
Nonsense, indeed. Harman had actually found the cart path off the tee on the par 3. He took a free drop then – despite the funky lie -- proceeded to hole a lob wedge for the 2.
"I said, man, I can't believe I dropped it into that lie right there," Harman remembered telling his caddy. "But I had a little gap through the trees and had plenty of green to work with. When it hit the green, I was like, well damn, that one looks all right. As it got closer and I was like, there's no way that thing is missing. That was really cool."
Harman celebrated by high-fiving the fans standing around him.
"It was great," he said. "My caddie said a guy was behind him and threw his beer up in the air and spilled all over him. That's why you play the game. That's why we're out here; and to have that kind of support, and to have those guys freaking out, it was awesome. It was awesome. I'll go right back over and buy them another beer."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After having to wait nearly 3 hours to discover his fate, first alternate Brian Harman finally teed off in THE PLAYERS Championship as a single at 12:05 p.m. ET Thursday, 5 minutes ahead of the first scheduled tee time in the afternoon wave at TPC Sawgrass.
In a bizarre twist of events, D. A. Points withdrew with a back injury just as his name was announced on the first tee for his 8:39 a.m. ET tee time. That news, however, didn’t reach officials or Harman until it was too late with the other two members of the group, Carl Pettersson and Robert Garrigus, having already teed off and moved on to the next hole.
“In my 31 years on the golf tour, I can never remember a player withdrawing right before he's supposed to play,” PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competition Mark Russell said. “It happened very quickly. We didn't have time to react. Once we were able to sit down and get our heads around this, figure out exactly what the situation is, we decided that Brian Harman had done everything that we had asked him to do.”
When Harman arrived at the golf course 7 a.m. Thursday, he alerted officials he was on site and gave them his phone number. When the news of Points’ WD reached Harman, he was in the caddie area playing ping-pong with his caddie John Davenport.
“By the time the information got from the tee box to [officials], it’s already over,” Harman said “There was nothing they could do about it.”
Thankfully there was.
Rules officials convened and even reached out to USGA managing director of rules and competition Jeff Hall to figure out a solution. They decided the best decision was to “re-assign” Harman a tee time (UPDATE: Harman will take Paul Casey’s 8:50 a.m. tee time on Friday after Casey withdrew Thursday).
“Brian did nothing wrong,” Russell said. “Usually the alternates check in with us, which Brian did. He contacted us this morning, said I'm here, you guys got my phone number, I'm going to be here. It was just such a quick sequence of events, we didn't have time to act on it.”
Mostly because of Points’ last-second decision to pull out of the tournament.
Points had already left the property and wasn’t immediately available for comment, but Russell said Points was well within his rights.
“I don't want to throw D.A. under the bus; It might have been a situation where he thought, well, this has happened before, I played a couple of holes and it felt better,” Russell said. “I know he wants to play in THE PLAYERS Championship, but he got up there, and they announced the first player and he played and they announced D.A. and he says, ‘I can't play.’ And then the starter went ahead and announced the third player.”
With Harman now in the field, Greg Owen, who was on his way up from Orlando, moved up to first alternate.
This marks the third time Harman has made it into the field as an alternate this year. The other two times came at the Transitions Championship and The Honda Classic, where he nearly shot 59 in the second round before settling for a 61 on his way to a tie for 12th.
Harman seemed to handle it all in stride Thursday. “I guess I need to play better,” he joked.
With the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival being held at the same time as this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Wesley Hodges of the Live Music Blog NOLA asked a few TOUR pros some music-related questions this week. What did Hodges find out?
That the best concert Rickie Fowler has ever seen was by Coldplay. That was also the first concert he ever attended. …
That Jason Bohn's rock-star encounter moment came during a round with KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. “The nicest guy," Bohn said. "He just blew me away with his personality, what type of person he is considering the music he plays. It was one of the best times I’ve had playing golf with an amateur.” …
That the first album Harris English ever purchased was N-Sync's No Strings Attached. "I was 9 or 10," English said, "Probably played it on a Walkman or something. I don’t have a record player; have heard of the old 8-track though." …
That Brian Harman is supposed to meet country star Jason Aldeen this fall at a charity event. "I’m excited about that," Harman said. …
That William McGirt knows Darius Rucker. "My agent used to be the road manager for Hootie and the Blowfish," McGirt said. "(Rucker's) not bad -- you’ve gotta watch out for a guy who has two sets of golf clubs, one for the road and one that stays at home." …
That Chez Reavie practices while listening to U2 or Linkin Park. "That kind of genre," Reavie said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Sergio Garcia has always been one of Brian Harman’s favorite players.
“The guy, he just goes out there and is just fearless,” Harman said. “He’s never been afraid of anything.”
Friday, Harman was himself fearless in shooting a course-record 61 that has him in contention through two rounds of The Honda Classic.
The rookie from the University of Georgia made the turn in 29 with four birdies and an eagle before adding four more birdies on the back nine as he threatened 59.
Needing to eagle the par-5 18th, Harman’s second shot landed in a greenside bunker and he eventually missed a 5-footer for birdie before settling on the record score.
His round beat the previous record by three strokes after Davis Love III and leader Tom Gillis had tied it earlier.
“I walked off 16 and I was like, man, if I birdie these last two holes, I'm going to shoot 59,” Harman said. “I had a good shot there [on 17]. And I hit a great drive on 18 and had a chance. I mean, I had a chance.
“This is probably one of the hardest golf courses we play all year, and just to have a chance to do something special like that is really humbling and it's really cool.”
On Thursday, Harman wasn’t even sure he’ be around for the weekend after finishing in 3 over. Earlier in the week he wasn’t even in the field as the first alternate.
“It's just one of those things,” Harman said. “Funny how things work out, and I'm going to try to keep going.”
One of the reasons Harman was able to turn his week around was a switch he made in drivers after the opening round. He also recently switched to a belly putter and tried to be more patient.
“I have a bad habit of getting really impatient out there and wanting it to go faster and faster,” said Harman, who traded text messages with Lucas Glover Thursday night for some advice on how to be more patient. “He goes, ‘Well, try to walk a little slower.’ I did that today.
“I haven't gotten to my phone yet, but I'll be sure to send him a thank-you text.”