A refreshed Harman contending at The RSM Classic
November 22, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- During the second round of The RSM Classic, Brian Harman hit all 18 greens. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Brian Harman hit all 18 greens in Friday’s second round of The RSM Classic. It’s the second time in his career that he’s accomplished that feat.
“I think my ball-striking is probably as good as it’s ever been,” said Harman, who’s won twice on the TOUR, was runner-up in a major and once ranked 20th in the world.
A lot has changed in just a few months. This summer, he felt “crippling anxiety” about losing his PGA TOUR card. Harman was 170th in the FedExCup last March and still ranked outside the top 125 as late as June.
He earned a spot in this year’s FedExCup Playoffs, though, with three top-10s in his final six starts of the regular season. It started with a T8 at the Travelers, where he overcame a first-round 72 with three consecutive 66s. Two weeks later, he was in contention at the 3M Open before a bad third round. Tired of stressing about his game, he sent a text to his agent that Sunday saying, “This ends today.” He shot a final-round 65 to lock up his card and Playoffs spot.
“I made the choice that day that whatever happened, I was going to act like I had been there before,” Harman said. “It let me know that I really did need to change the way I was thinking about things and not get so bogged down.”
That freedom has helped him play the same creative golf he played during his younger days, when he won the U.S. Junior Amateur and was the world’s top-ranked amateur.
Harman started this new season with a third-place finish in A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, finished in the top-20 in his next two starts and is back in contention at The RSM.
He shot 67 on Thursday at Sea Island’s Plantation Course before following with a 66 on the Seaside Course that will host the final two rounds.
Harman, a Georgia alum, played Sea Island in the SEC Championships and now makes his home here. He only had one top-25 in his first five starts in the RSM, though. He missed the cut in both 2015 and 2016 before finishing a career-best fourth. He was T32 last year.
“I wanted to play well so bad,” Harman said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced it. It’s a fun week. Let’s have fun.”
His family is staying at his house, as is his caddie. They’ve cooked out each night, eating elk tenderloin and tomahawk pork chops.
Harman is enjoying the game again after suffering from burnout at the start of last season. His game reached new heights two years ago, when he won the Wells Fargo Championship, finished runner-up in the U.S. Open and qualified for his first TOUR Championship. All that success led to new opportunities, but also a busier schedule.
“I was really tired,” he said. “It’s a fine line out here. You take a little bit of a mental break, and I did because I was tired of grinding all the time, and your game takes a hit,” Harman said.
He started working with swing coach Justin Parsons in the spring and promptly finished T8 at THE PLAYERS. Harman still works with longtime swing coach Jack Lumpkin, as well.
Parsons also helped Harman’s former Georgia teammate, Harris English, turn around his career. Harman described working with Parsons, who moved to Sea Island from Dubai earlier this year, as a “shot in the arm.”
“I just didn’t really feel like myself anymore,” Harman said. “I was trying to be something I wasn’t. (Justin) helped me be more creative with my ball-striking and freed me up to do some of stuff that I know I can do.”