Brian Harman dusts Rory McIlroy at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

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Brian Harman dusts Rory McIlroy at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

PGA Tour

Brian Harman dusts Rory McIlroy at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas—Brian Harman was nervous earlier this week in his first WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play appearance. The 30-year-old estimated that the opening round marked his first competitive match play appearance since the 2009 Walker Cup.

After halving with Jhonattan Vegas, defeating Peter Uihlein and routing Rory McIlroy 5 and 3, the ex-Georgia star is headed to the quarterfinals. 

“I hadn’t played match play in so long, other than just playing around at home,” Harman said. “It was hard to get back into it. After that first match, I felt much more comfortable yesterday and even more comfortable today.”

Harman said McIlroy’s massive distance advantage was actually helpful for his game.

“I think it’s easier when a guy hits it that far, you know that you can’t keep up with him,” Harman said. “It almost forces you to play your own game.”

Playing just his fifth WGC event, Harman led from Austin Country Club’s third hole until closing things out at the 15th.

“I’m proud of the way I came out,” Harman said. “Rory is an intimidating guy. He hits it a mile. Especially what he did last week. I kind of had this circled this week and I’m glad I came out and played well.”

McIlroy kept his post-round remarks brief in a rush to get airborne. Since he’s unlikely to be trying to catch a Southwest connector, McIlroy must have been eager to get his in-flight WiFi fired up to watch the afternoon’s Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed match. 

“Brian played great today,” McIlroy said. “He made a few birdies and didn’t really make a mistake.”

McIlroy said he never fully recharged after his emotional win at Bay Hill last week and will now prepare for the Masters with two social rounds in Augusta later next week.

“Obviously a couple of days extra at home that I wasn’t planning on,” he said. “But, yeah, just chill out, rest up a little bit, recharge the batteries, get into the gym. Sort of have a good week training and a good practice week. And just get myself ready for Augusta.”

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