Harman looks to enjoy the moment at British Open
Plentiful rewards were the order of the moment as Brian Harman celebrated his first PGA Tour win at last Sunday’s John Deere Classic.
Obviously, the massive payday ($846,000) was part of the fallout, but the exemption into the Open Championship ranked more significant and the 500 FedEx Cup points translated into a lovely haul, too. Oh, and don’t forget the 2015 Masters invite and the two-year Tour exemption, never something to be overlooked.
So when he settled into his seat for the private charter across the ocean to the 143rd Open Championship, Harman thought he had a clear understanding of what he had accomplished by holding off Zach Johnson.
“Then my trainer, Randy Myers, said to me, ‘Well, you have to be excited about going to Maui.’ "
Harman laughed. He realized he had overlooked his exemption into the annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions at famed Kapalua. “I hadn’t been a winner for three hours and hadn’t thought of that.”
The important thing is that the 27-year-old left-hander did maintain his composure and show a finishing touch to withstand pressure from veterans Johnson and Steve Stricker. He’d be lying if he saw this victory coming, not on the heels of missed cuts at the Greenbrier Classic and Quicken Loans National, and not on a golf course that required a score of 22 under to win.
“I usually don’t play well where you have to make a lot of birdies,” Harman said.
But still, Harman packed the passport when he left for Silvis, Ill., because he knew what the ultimate prize was at the Deere: a possible trip to Hoylake, England. “It’s a tournament I’ve always wanted to play in,” he said.
Well, his chance has arrived. To greet Harman, Royal Liverpool presented itself in two different flavors on his first two days. Monday, just hours after having landed in Manchester, Harman and his caddie, Scott Tway, simply walked the course in howling wind, “just trying to get the wheels back under me,” Harman said. Then come Tuesday, the sun was out, clouds hardly were an issue and neither was there much wind, so Harman didn’t have much problem navigating the course.
Ah, but come Thursday and Friday? He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He will worry about that when it arrives. Strike that. He probably won’t worry; rather, Harman will try to enjoy every moment, because it’s a wonderful prize that came his way in an unexpected rush of riches.
“It’s pretty overwhelming. Awesome. The best,” he said. “I don’t want to call it a fallout, but the repercussions of everything have me still feeling like I might wake up (out of a dream).
“Anyone who watched it (on TV) saw me trying so hard to keep everything together when it was all trying to come apart at the seams. It was nice to let all the emotions go.”
Riding the adrenaline of his victory, Harman said he barely slept on the overnight flight, then did the prescribed routine and stayed awake for as long as he could Monday. “I got a good night sleep, and I’m feeling a lot better,” he said Tuesday after his practice round.
Small in stature but large in heart, Harman has never lacked for fearlessness when playing the game. Aggressive and confident, he has taken the lumps that invariably are dished out by this fickle game, but Harman has improved steadily and learned greatly from the Sea Island crowd that pushes him and motivates him: players such as Harris English and Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar and Lucas Glover, Johnson and Davis Love III, arguably Harman’s mentor.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt to be around these guys,” Harman said with a smile.