The 2014 run of success on the PGA Tour by former members of the University of Georgia golf team continued in the John Deere Classic, with Savannah native Brian Harman becoming the sixth ex-Bulldog (seven counting one-and-done UGA golfer Patrick Reed) to win this season.
Harman joins Masters/Los Angeles Open champion Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk (McGladrey Classic), Harris English (Mayakoba Classic), Russell Henley (Honda Classic) and Brendon Todd (Byron Nelson Championship) on the list of 2013-14 winners. Reed, who played one season at Georgia before transferring to Augusta State, has two PGA Tour wins in 2014, including the WGC event at Doral.
Of all Georgia’s standouts over the past decade, Harman was the most highly touted entering college. He was the No. 1-ranked junior in the U.S, won the U.S. Junior Championship and competed on the Walker Cup team, all before beginning his college career in Athens.
Harman enjoyed a successful career in Athens, but not quite the one expected of him when he entered school. He made second team All-American three times, but never was a first team selection and struggled for most of his junior season. His two individual wins came in the Fall of his freshman and sophomore seasons, and an NCAA title eluded the Bulldogs during Harman’s tenure despite four top-10 finishes with his teammates, which included all this season’s PGA Tour winners except Watson.
Harman, who now lives on St. Simons Island, took a few years to reach the PGA Tour, making it through Q-school on his third attempt in 2011. He enjoyed respectable showings in 2012 and ’13 before his breakthrough this season, which included five top-10 finishes prior to his win in the John Deere.
After missing the cut the previous two weeks, Harman began the John Deere Classic with an 8-under 63 to tie fellow St. Simons resident Zach Johnson for the first round lead. He was one shot behind Johnson after 36 holes at 131, but regained the lead with a third round 65 and held off Johnson with a closing 66 that included a bogey on the 72nd hole.
Harman finished with a 22-under 262 total, with his victory earning him the last spot in the 2014 British Open, as well as an invitation to the 2015 Masters. He moved up from 115 to 70 in the World Rankings and from 48 to 14 in the FedExCup standings, putting him in position to qualify for this year’s Tour Championship at East Lake.