Brian Harman is back in action for the first time since his master class at Royal Liverpool.
The methodical golfer deftly avoided trouble at The Open Championship. He hit smart approach shot after smart approach shot and putted the lights out to run away for a six-shot victory.
Harman was a shot off the lead after round one at Hoylake, grabbed a commanding lead after round two, and handled the pressure of sleeping with the lead multiple times with grace.
The 36-year-old was a two-time PGA Tour winner and was no stranger to contending in majors. He finished T-2nd at the 2017 U.S. Open where he didn’t really lose the tournament; Brooks Koepka won it.
Erin Hills wasn’t a great course fit for Harman’s game. Hoylake very much was.
It penalized bombers who were either forced to lay back to avoid treacherous pot bunkers, or who found trouble when they took them on.
Harman’s lack of distance wasn’t a detriment. His course management and short game were rewarded more so than at an average PGA Tour stop.
That brings us to this week’s familiar venue, TPC Southwind.
This is far from a bomber’s paradise, either. It’s a tree-lined test that rewards players who can get their ball in the right position to attack. The wind can blow and low scores aren’t a foregone conclusion.
Harman missed the cut his first two times playing the FedEx St. Jude Championship early in his career. His last four trips to Memphis have gone a lot better. The former Georgia Bulldog made three cuts in that span, including T-6th (69-65-67-72) in 2014 when he was three shots back, and T-3rd (66-66-69-67) in 2022 when he was also three back.
He ranks first on the PGA Tour in scrambling (66.96%). He’s in the positive in every strokes gained category. Harman is eighth in driving accuracy (67.63%).