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Harman bellies up at Porter Cup

By RON BALICKI
Senior Writer

LEWISTON, N.Y. – Within the past week, Brian Harman changed putters and Mike McCoy changed his putting stroke.

Both are rolling early at the Porter Cup.

Harman, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Georgia, used his new belly putter to shoot a 6-under-par 64 and grab the opening round lead Wednesday at Niagara Falls Country Club.

McCoy, a 44-year-old insurance man from West Des Moines, Iowa, used his altered putting stroke in posting a 5-under 65 on a sun-filled, calm day in western New York.

Lucas Lee, a third-team All-American at UCLA, and Billy Horschel, a first-team All-American at Florida, both shot 66.

The group at 67 included Arnond Vongvanji, Ryan Brehm, Jason Kokrak, Garrett Osborn and Dustin Johnson.

Harman, a second-team All-American, had been struggling with his game much of the college spring and summer amateur seasons. Much of those struggles have come on the greens.

So before the final round of last week’s Southern Amateur, Harman decided to make a drastic change in putters. For the first time ever in competition, he put into play a belly putter.

“I shot 66 that last round so in my two rounds (using the belly putter) I’m 12-under par. I think that shows you where my problems are,” Harman said. “I had been trying all different kinds of things. I just figured, when all else fails, go to the belly.”

It certainly proved to work in the opening round. Harman birdied the first two holes and then added birdies at Nos. 5, 7 and 9 to turn in 5-under 30.

He bogeyed the par-3, 12th when he “flew the green by some 50 yards” and two-putted from 30 feet. But he came back with birdies at No. 14 and 17, considered by most as the toughest hole on the course.

“I hit it good and putted good on the front side and then just played solid on the back,” Harman said. “I’m pretty happy with my round of golf today. I definitely think I’ll stay with (belly putter) for a while.”

McCoy said he had been “putting atrocious all summer,” but last week at the Southern Am got some help from fellow player Michael Barbosa on the practice green, who talked to him about his rhythm and a little loop he noticed in his stroke.

“It was nothing major, but something just clicked,” said McCoy. “Today I really felt I had good rhythm with the putter. I know one thing, it was sure refreshing to see some of the putts start going in.”

The 65 was McCoy’s best single round in Porter Cup play. He’s competed in 10 of these, with his best finish being a tie for sixth last year.

He opened the day with a birdie at the first hole and added two others at Nos. 3 and 6. He birdied 10, 11 and 17 before his lone bogey on the closing hole, where his tee shot found the back bunker and he missed his 12-foot, downhill par putt.

“This summer has been pretty disappointing so far,” he said. “I put a lot of work into it and haven’t gotten much out of it. I just kind of got into a funk, so to come out and shoot 65 today is pretty exciting.

“Heck, I need a 65 just to keep up with these young guys. We’re in an era of unbelievable golf and these young guys are so good. But I think this is a golf course where a mid-am can play well and hopefully I can continue to do that the next three days.”

• • •

In the Porter Cup Senior Division, Steve Hakes of San Diego shot and even-par 70 for a one-shot lead. After a bogey at No. 1, he birdied 2 and 3 and turned in 1-under 34. He made birdies at 10 and 13, but had bogeys at 12, 14 and 17 for a 1-over 36.

• • •

Ron Balicki is a Golfweek senior writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]

Scores with relation to par from the first round of the Porter Cup, played July 25 at par-70 Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y.:

1 . Brian Harman 64

-6 2 . Mike McCoy 65

-5 3 . Lucas Lee 66

-4 3 . Billy Horschel 66

-4 5 . Daniel Mitchell 67

-3 5 . Ryan Brehm 67

-3 5 . Bank Vongvanij 67

-3 5 . Rory Hie 67

-3 5 . Garrett Osborn 67

-3 5 . Dustin Johnson 67

-3 5 . Jason Kokrak 67

-3 12 . Justin Regier 68

-2 12 . Aaron Goldberg 68

-2 12 . Tim Stewart 68

-2 12 . Kevin Foley 68

-2 12 . Cameron Tringale 68

-2 12 . Tripp Davis 68

-2 12 . Jon Curran 68

-2 12 . Brendan Gielow 68

-2 20 . Gary Woodland 69

-1 20 . Mark Harrell 69

-1 20 . Matthew Griffin 69

-1 20 . Andrew Dodt 69

-1 20 . Romain Bechu 69

-1 20 . Jim Roy 69

-1 26 . Alexandre Kaleka 70

E 26 . Trip Kuehne 70

E 26 . Nicolas Geyger 70

E 26 . David May 70

E 26 . Nick Morreale 70

E 26 . Aaron Pike 70

E 26 . Michael Morrison 70

E 26 . Jon McLean 70

E 26 . Webb Simpson 70

E 35 . Brad Revell 71
+ 1 35 . Seung-su Han 71
+ 1 35 . Jerry Richardson 71
+ 1 35 . Colt Knost 71
+ 1 35 . Zack Miller 71
+ 1 35 . Philip Francis 71
+ 1 35 . Kevin Tway 71
+ 1 35 . Brian Locke 71
+ 1 35 . Tommy Wiegand 71
+ 1 35 . Drew Kittleson 71
+ 1 45 . James Gill 72
+ 2 45 . Danny Green 72
+ 2 45 . Rob Grube 72
+ 2 45 . Gene Elliott 72
+ 2 45 . Andrew Landry 72
+ 2 45 . Sihwan Kim 72
+ 2 45 . Tim Mickelson 72
+ 2 52 . Jeff Wolniewicz 73
+ 3 52 . Skip Berkmeyer, Jr. 73
+ 3 52 . Kevin Chappell 73
+ 3 52 . Casey Watabu 73
+ 3 52 . Jarred Texter 73
+ 3 52 . Rickie Fowler 73
+ 3 52 . Rick Kulacz 73
+ 3 52 . John Kelly 73
+ 3 52 . Chris Kirk 73
+ 3 61 . Nathan Smith 74
+ 4 61 . Tom Glissmeyer 74
+ 4 61 . Andrew DiBitetto 74
+ 4 61 . Carlton Forrester 74
+ 4 61 . Matt Bortis 74
+ 4 66 . Shawn LaFontaine 75
+ 5 67 . Brad Valois 76
+ 6 67 . Michael Schachner 76
+ 6 67 . Eddie Olson 76
+ 6 67 . Buddy Marucci 76
+ 6 67 . Rohan Blizard 76
+ 6 72 . Christopher Ross 77
+ 7 73 . Nathaniel Crosby 78
+ 8 74 . Jay Bayron 79
+ 9 75 . Ryan Swanson 81
+ 11

SENIORS

1 . Steve Hakes 70
+ E 2 . Dave Carroll 71
+ 1 2 . Don Marsh 71
+ 1 2 . John Benson 71
+ 1 5 . John French 72
+ 2 6 . Gary Shimmin 73
+ 3 6 . J. Michael Fetter 73
+ 3 6 . Bob Lewis, Jr. 73
+ 3 9 . John Esterbrook 74
+ 4 9 . Mike Nixon 74
+ 4 11 . Brian Jeffery 75
+ 5 12 . James Smith, MD 76
+ 6 12 . Fred Silver 76
+ 6 14 . Jerry Greenbaum 77
+ 7 14 . Rick LaRose 77
+ 7 14 . Rob Thompson 77
+ 7 14 . Randy Reifers 77
+ 7 14 . Mike Rice 77
+ 7 14 . Tom Humphrey 77
+ 7 20 . Bob Fouke 78
+ 8 20 . John Dennis 78
+ 8 22 . Jim Cecchini 79
+ 9 22 . Skip Snow 79
+ 9

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