2005: Walker Cup - American teen Harman impressive in debut
He was the youngest U.S. player in Walker Cup history. Perhaps too young, pre-match skeptics had suggested.
But Brian Harman, an 18-year-old University of Georgia freshman, justified his selection by being the only player to charge through the Walker Cup without a loss. Playing in three matches – he sat out the first-day singles competition – Harman won two and halved the other.
It was his singles victory Aug. 14 at Chicago Golf Club that helped set the tone for the Americans’ 121⁄2-111⁄2 victory, the first for the U.S. since 1997. Playing in the second group, the former U.S. Junior champion scored a 6-and-5 victory over Wales’ Rhys Davies, a first-team All-American as a junior at East Tennessee State and the No. 3 player in the final 2004-05 Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
“I live for big matches like this,” Harman said. “That’s my life. I dream about that kind of stuff. It’s been an incredible week. The fans here were great and so very supportive.
“It’s something I’ll always remember.”
Harman’s Day 2 foursomes triumph with Anthony Kim – a 4-and-2 decision over Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman and Richie Ramsay – provided a crucial point for the Americans, but the half-point he and Kim notched the previous day was just as important.
Harman and Kim were 3 down after 10 holes, but battled back against Davies and Nigel Edwards. U.S. captain Bob Lewis later said it may have been “the biggest half-point of the match.”
Coming into the Walker Cup, Lewis was aware of Harman’s ability. But he found out more as he watched the youngster compete.
“He was extremely impressive,” said Lewis, a member of four winning U.S. Walker Cups as a player. “He obviously has a lot of talent, and he certainly brought it out this week and handled himself very well.
“He was a horse out there.”
Harman wasn’t the only teen to make an impression at Chicago Golf Club. England’s Oliver Fisher, 16, the youngest Walker Cup player ever, showed he had plenty of grit.
Fisher finished with a 1-2-1 record. He scored a 2-up victory over Michael Putnam in the first day of singles when he birdied four of the last five holes. Then in the third singles match Sunday, also against Putnam, he rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to ignite a dramatic GB&I rally.
“It was an amazing week,” said Fisher, who will play in the U.S. Amateur Aug. 22-28 at Merion Golf Club. “It was great being around these guys and playing in front of such big crowds. Everything was just fantastic.”
Everything fantastic, as it turned out, included the two youngest players on both sides. Youth, at the 2005 Walker Cup, definitely was served.