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.