CHAMPIONS
Harman Continues Run of Tour Success for Junior Amateur Champs May 8, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Brian Harman is now a two-time PGA Tour winner, 14 years after he became the first left-handed player to win the U.S. Junior Amateur. (USGA/Simon Bruty)

With a dramatic 30-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, Brian Harman not only claimed the Wells Fargo Championship title at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, Del., but the 2003 U.S. Junior Amateur champion strongly positioned himself for a spot in next month’s U.S. Open Championship.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound left-hander moved from No. 93 in the Official World Golf Ranking to 52. The top 60 in the OWGR on May 22 earn exemptions into the U.S. Open, a major the former University of Georgia standout is looking to play in for the third time.

U.S. Junior Amateur champions have been frequent visitors to the winners’ circle in PGA Tour events in recent years. Since 2012, Jordan Spieth (9), Tiger Woods (8), Hunter Mahan (3), Harman (2) and Charlie Beljan (1) have now claimed 23 Tour victories.

Before the 30-year-old Harman’s emotionally charged reaction on the par-5 18th hole, it appeared the event, which was moved to Eagle Point for one year because Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., is hosting the PGA Championship this summer, was headed for a playoff, with reigning U.S. Open champion and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in position for a fourth consecutive victory. Competing for the first time since suffering a freak back injury on the eve of last month’s Masters, Johnson made the cut on the number, only to rally for a pair of 5-under 67s on the weekend to post 9-under 279. He shared that position with Pat Perez until Harman moved into a tie with a short birdie putt on the par-4 17th hole.

It was on the par-5 closing hole that the 2005 and 2009 USA Walker Cup competitor converted the long birdie putt, touching off a wild celebration, and putting the finishing touches on a 4-under 68. 


PGA Tour rookie and 2016 U.S. Open low amateur Jon Rahm still had a chance to tie Harman with a closing eagle, but his second shot to No. 18 caromed over the green and his ensuing pitch rolled well past the flagstick. He settled for solo fourth at 8-under 280.

“It’s surreal,” said Harman, whose only other PGA Tour win came in the 2014 John Deere Classic. “I three-putted that 15th hole, [so I] knew it was going to be tough to birdie those last couple [holes]. But I stuck to my game plan and just did it. Did the best I could.”

Johnson, meanwhile, shook off the rust of not playing competitively in six weeks with a brilliant weekend performance after carding a 75 in Friday’s windy conditions. His game appears strong heading into next week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, with his U.S. Open title defense coming in June at Erin Hills.

”Not much has changed,” said Johnson. “The first couple days, I didn’t play that great, but really played nicely on Saturday and Sunday … so I’m happy with where the game is going into next week.”

Another U.S. Junior Amateur champion also had a strong week in Wilmington. Kevin Tway (2005) tied for fifth at 7-under 271, giving the Oklahoma native a third consecutive top-5 finish. He was third two weeks ago in the Valero Texas Open and tied for third last week in the Zurich Classic with partner Kelly Kraft, the 2011 U.S. Amateur champion.

Fox Trot

Steven Fox has spent the last several years finding his footing in the professional game, turning pro the year after he hoisted the Havemeyer Trophy at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver five years ago. Fox, who defeated Michael Weaver in the championship match to win the U.S. Amateur, collected his second professional victory on Sunday morning in Mandeville, La.


The Henderson, Tenn, native defeated Robby Ormand in a sudden-death playoff in the Business First Bank Classic on the Adams Pro Tour, a circuit with events in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas. The 72-hole event ended on Saturday, but the playoff spilled into Sunday.

Match Game

For the first time in five years, the LPGA Tour conducted a match-play event. Thirteen USGA champions competed in the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play in Mexico City, with two reaching the final four. Ariya Jutanugarn, the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, fell in the championship match, 1 down, to Sei Young Kim, while 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Michelle Wie fell in the semifinals to Jutanugarn before losing the third-place match on the 22nd hole to Mi Jung Hur.

Cristie Kerr, the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open champion, was defeated by Jutanugarn in the quarterfinals a week after suffering a six-hole playoff loss in the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout and a month after her 19th career LPGA Tour triumph in The Lotte Championship in Hawaii.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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