Harman steals the spotlight at Wells Fargo
May 07, 2017
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Brian Harman's brilliant recovery on the 72nd hole at Wells FargoIn the final round of the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, Brian Harman stubbed his third shot from off the green then pours in a 28-foot putt for birdie on the par-5 18th hole.
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club, where Brian Harman made a 28-foot birdie putt at the last hole to get to 10 under and nip Dustin Johnson (67) and Pat Perez (68) by one. Rookie Jon Rahm (71) made a par 5 at the 18th hole and finished fourth alone at 8 under.
For more coverage from Eagle Point, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
HARMAN OVERLOOKED NO MORE
Attention was paid to Dustin Johnson, who was going for his fourth straight win; and Jon Rahm, the rookie sensation; and Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed, the third-round leader; and the capital L Lefty, Phil Mickelson, who had never won in North Carolina.
Not much attention was paid to little lefthander Brian Harman—until he gave everyone no choice.
“Well, I would be lying if I didn't say I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Harman said after he made a wild, nearly 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win by one. He screamed and connected on a high-five with his much-taller caddie Scott Tway as the crowd roared and the enormity of his putt hit home. Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez were out; Harman had won it.
Harman is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, and his tee shots don’t exactly scrape the bottom of the sun. He is steady—he was 32nd in FedExCup standings, and moves to 9th—but other than his only other TOUR win at the 2014 John Deere Classic, he hadn’t often been spectacular. When he first saw Eagle Point a few weeks ago on a reconnaissance trip with Patton Kizzire, Harris English and Hudson Swafford, Harman wasn’t sure the place was for guys like him.
“I actually thought like, man, this is a real bomber's paradise—18 and a couple of the par 5s on the front,” Harman said. “Like if you can carry like, that magic number seems to be like 290, 300 yards, if you can carry it, kind of catches the downslope and runs down there a little bit.”
Harman would have to be precise, limit his mistakes, and take advantage of his opportunities. He averaged 284.1 yards off the tee, which placed him a respectable 40th in that category, and hit fairways and greens. He putted better than average. (He was 17th in strokes gained: putting.) He hung around. He said his most important round may have come Friday, when in whipping winds he not only refused to shoot himself out of the tournament, he carded a 3-under 69.
Although they hadn’t first planned to be here, Harman’s wife Kelly and their daughter Cooper Marie came up from their home in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Cooper Marie will walk soon, and Kelly said Brian has been on edge about potentially missing her first steps. As it turned out, it was Kelly and Cooper Marie who got to watch Brian take the biggest step.
“It's very hard to stay patient because you know what it feels like to win, you know what it takes,” Harman said after his raucous 172nd TOUR start. “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. So this one feels very good.”
WIN STREAK OVER FOR JOHNSON
After making the cut on the number (1 over), Dustin Johnson did almost everything he needed to on the weekend to win his fourth tournament in four starts. Alas, his second straight 67 Sunday was not quite good enough, and he will not become the first player to win in four consecutive starts since Tiger Woods won five straight nine years ago.
“I didn’t really know what to expect this week, because I didn’t really get to practice leading into this tournament,” Johnson said after making a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to take the clubhouse lead. “So most of my practice I’ve done since I’ve been here.”
Johnson was coming off a long layoff after falling down a flight of stairs and withdrawing from the Masters Tournament, but there was nothing wrong with his long game at Eagle Point. He led the field in average driving distance (307.3 yards) and strokes gained: approach the green. His short game was only average, though, as he ranked 63rd in strokes gained: around the green.
“Physically, I’m really good,” Johnson said. “Everything’s 100 percent, feeling great. I can swing at it, no problems. Still got a lot of practice to do to get ready for next week [and THE PLAYERS Championship], but looking forward to it.”
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Brian Harman's sensational putt is the Shot of the Day
PEREZ: T2 ‘A BONUS’
Pat Perez hadn’t competed since a T18 finish at the Masters, so he came to Eagle Point with few expectations. At the very least, he would knock the rust off for THE PLAYERS.
He did a lot more than that. Perez bounced back from a double-bogey at the 14th hole with birdies on two of his last three to tie Johnson at 9 under par before Harman made his winning putt. At 40, Perez is in the midst of his finest season yet. His T2 at the Wells Fargo was his fifth top-10 finish in 15 starts, and moves him from seventh to fifth in the FedExCup points race.
“Hell of an up-and-down from back there,” Perez said of Harman. “He deserves it, he played great. I made double on 14, that killed me, but to have a look at the end, I was really excited about it.”
Needing to make birdie at the last to tie Johnson, Perez got almost to the green with his second shot. His chip rolled out to just over four feet from the cup, and he rolled in the putt.
“I wasn't really expecting too much this week,” Perez said. “I didn't do a whole lot—I was just trying to hit some shots and get ready for next week. This was just kind of a bonus being there.”
RAHM STILL ROLLING
At fourth in the FedExCup points race, Jon Rahm now has six top-10 finishes in his last eight starts, the highlight being his Farmers Insurance Open win at Torrey Pines. He needed a replay of his final-hole eagle at Torrey Pines on Sunday, but airmailed the green and settled for a par.
“I probably hit one of the best 5-woods I've hit in my life, probably better than the one at 18 at Torrey,” Rahm said. “The adrenaline—it was just so flushed and it was way longer than I expected. And then that chip was really hard.”
Rahm’s par was a slight buzzkill, but he was still able to see the big picture. His form remains excellent, and next week he’ll take his game to TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS, where, he noted, the success of his countryman Sergio Garcia suggests Rahm could do well there, too.
“I'm playing against the best in the world,” Rahm said, “and to be my first year and have as many options as anyone to win tournaments, I'm extremely happy just about that. Hope I can keep it going and maybe next week have a chance again.”
CALL OF THE DAY
KAUFMAN ALL SMILES
Other than keeping good company in Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, Smylie Kaufman has been having a rough go of it lately. Kaufman, 25, came to Eagle Point languishing at 203rd in the FedExCup standings after making only four cuts in 13 starts. His game was in a far different place than it was when he win the 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Eagle Point, though, is nothing if not generous off the tee, and the long hitting Kaufman took to it immediately. His 4-under 68 Sunday got him to 7 under for the tournament, the leader in the clubhouse until Harman, Johnson, Perez and Rahm came in.
“Yeah, I saw that,” said Kaufman, who ultimately slid down the board and into a T5 finish, still by far his best result this season. “It's nice to be leading at something. I've been leading to the airport recently, so it's nice to have my game trending in the right way.”
The secret, Kaufman said, has been good, old fashioned hard work. He said he “grinded out a cut” at the Valero Texas Open, and while his T37 finish was nothing to write home about, it was at least a step in the right direction. He missed the cut again while playing with Harold Varner III at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, but at least they shot a second-round 65.
Then came the Wells Fargo at Eagle Point, and something to build on for real.
“There's going to be a time this year where I'll have another opportunity to win,” Kaufman said, “and hopefully I can just reflect on my past experiences and go get it.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Going for his sixth PGA TOUR victory, leader Patrick Reed faded with a final-round 75 and tied for 12th. … The first three rounds, played in relentless wind, yielded just one bogey-free round apiece. In calmer conditions Sunday, Paul Casey (68), Xander Schauffele (68) and Tag Ridings (69) all went bogey-free. … Rahm was attempting to become the first international player 22 or younger with a multi-win season since Sergio Garcia in 2001. … Harman, the first lefty to win on TOUR since Cody Gribble at the 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship, has one top-10 finish, a T8 in 2015, in five career starts at THE PLAYERS.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Nice going @harmanbrian. Awesome putt big daddy!!!— Hudson Swafford (@Hud_swafford) May 7, 2017
Also shoutout to the crowds out at the @WellsFargoGolf this week! They were awesome everyday!— Zac Blair (@z_blair) May 7, 2017
Making birdie at the 72nd hole to win.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 7, 2017
It's tough to top this feeling. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/jhkCMpUSgV