Before winning The Open, Brian Harman considered move to broadcasting
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Brian Harman made a startling admission Tuesday at The RSM Classic.
A month before winning The Open Championship for his first major title, he considered calling an audible and pivoting to broadcasting.
“Earlier this year, I was asking my agent about announcing jobs already,” Harman said Tuesday at the PGA TOUR’s season finale. “So we all get there, we all have those thoughts. Everyone’s in a place that we operate on these razor-thin margins. … A couple shots a day and you’re out of the game. I mean, it can happen so quick.”
Harman is grateful that his agent, Jeremy Elliott, disagreed.
“He told me exactly what I needed to hear,” Harman said. “'No, we’re not doing that yet, Brian.'”
But in a moment of unguarded honesty at idyllic Sea Island Golf Club, Harman broke a piece of news that neatly encapsulates the mental pretzel cultivated through PGA TOUR competition. He’s a former top-ranked junior who was expected to take the golf world by storm, who toiled on mini-tours for a time before earning his TOUR card through PGA TOUR Q-School. Although he has always kept his card, he hadn’t won since 2017, and he knew he wasn’t getting any younger.
Fast forward to The RSM Classic, and it’s a triumphant homecoming for the adopted local resident. Harman comfortably qualified for the TOUR Championship, stands No. 9 on the Official World Golf Ranking and showed well in his Ryder Cup debut, going 2-2 for the U.S. Team in a losing cause. He’s at peace with his life and his game. He might not have needed the validation of a major title, but he earned it nonetheless.
Brian Harman surprised by friends and family upon return with Claret Jug
And to think, just five months ago he was considering a move to the game’s media side. He looks back and realizes perhaps those thoughts were what pushed him to the best golf of his career.
“It’s just a cycle,” Harman said. “It's like you work, you work your ass off to get to … a mini little peak. … And then you stop doing the things that got you there and so you start this kind of downhill thing and then it just snowballs and then it's rock bottom. ‘All right, I guess I'm going to go do something else.’
“And then it's like, ‘No, I'm not going to do that.’ Then you start working hard again and you start working your way up to the top again. It's always, it's in constant motion. It's kind of like you're either getting better or you're getting worse, and your mindset in the way that you approach everything is sort of what determines what part of that projection you're on.”
Harman is just 36, but he’s very much a wily veteran on TOUR, and he went down this thought train Tuesday after discussing 35-year-old Eric Cole, a first-year TOUR member who’s on track to win Rookie of the Year honors. Cole finished No. 43 on the FedExCup and was the only rookie to qualify for the BMW Championship after spending 13 years as a pro before reaching the TOUR – including 80-plus wins on the Minor League Golf Tour and stints on the Korn Ferry Tour.
As C.P. Cavafy theorizes in “Ithaka,” a poem dating back to 1911, “The destination can sometimes be surpassed in value by the journey.” Harman’s admission parallels the arc of Camilo Villegas, 41, who has taken the TOUR by storm in recent weeks with a runner-up at the World Wide Technology Championship followed by a victory at last week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Three months ago, Villegas worked as a Golf Channel analyst at the Wyndham Championship, the site of his most recent TOUR victory (2014) before last week. But he wasn’t quite ready to turn full-time to that side of the game.
Neither was Harman – despite some considerations that would likely take most of his TOUR peers by surprise.
“I know Brian well … very, very, very well,” said Zach Johnson, a fellow local resident and Harman’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain. “We've had discussions throughout the years on how to play this game, how to tackle this game; we approach things very similar. That's why I'm surprised by this. … I'm just shocked by that statement because he is so good. I mean, obviously, we're saying it because he had a great summer, but even before that. I almost want to model my game after him now; that's really what I'm getting at because he's really so efficient at what he does.
“Wow, I'm surprised by that statement.”
Golf, like life, offers more than what meets the eye.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.