Jun 11, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA; General view of a golf ball and golf club during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Harman latest former Georgia Bulldog to win on PGA Tour

With a 22-under-262 final score, former Bulldog Golf All-American Brian Harman won the John Deere Classic. The 27-year-old, in his third full season on the PGA Tour, had never been part of a last round final pairing.

Holding the lead entering the final round, Harman looked at the scoreboard after hitting a poor shot into the eighth green.

He admitted he felt the pressure.

“I saw the guys were playing well, so that’s when I felt it, but I was able to hit three really good shots on No. 9 to birdie, and that kind of got me going,” Harman told Georgiadogs.com.

Harman kept it going down the stretch with the three straight birdies to hold off Zach Johnson by one stroke.

Harman had a 5-under 66 in the final round and earned $846,000.

“It was very hard, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do in my life,” Harman said. “Just trying not to let your mind run wild is the hardest part out there.”

Harman is the sixth Bulldog to win on Tour this year, joining Bubba Watson, Harris English, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk and Brendon Todd.

Two years ago, Harman played with Johnson in a late pairing of the Deere that Johnson won, and learned a great deal about how to handle the heat.

“I talked to Zach about it, and he felt I was trying to get out of his way a little too much and that I needed to stake my ground a little bit,” Harman said.

He did so Sunday beginning on the par-5 second hole, sinking a 4-foot putt after a 223-yard approach to drop his stroke total to 19 under and set the tone for his final round. His bogey on No. 5 proved only a momentary bump in the road once he birdied No. 9. He led Johnson and Scott Brown by a stroke at the turn and was ahead by as many as three strokes after his final birdie, a 6-footer on No. 16.

Harman, whose best previous finishes were ties for third place, also earned his first invitations to the Masters and the Tournament of Champions. He tried to block that out along the way.

“When those thoughts enter, it’s like what’s the best way to get those things you want,” Harman said.

He got his third eagle in 19 holes when he eagled the par-5 second for the second straight day. He sank a 4-foot putt after a brilliant approach from 223 yards. A bogey on No. 5 was offset by a birdie on the ninth, the most difficult hole on the front nine. Harman stood 19-under at the turn, and added a birdie at No. 10 to go to 20 under.

Johnson started three strokes behind Harman, but caught him by the 14th hole, tapping in from 10 inches for his third birdie in five holes and sixth of the day.

Harman came to the drivable par-4 14th hole minutes later, and after watching Stricker scramble for a par, got up and down from a greenside bunker with a 14-foot birdie putt. He added birdies on the next two holes to pull away from the field. With a two-shot cushion on the 18th tee, a bogey on the final hole didn’t hurt him.

“He’s always been known as a gritty player that plays pretty simple golf,” Johnson said of Harman, a neighbor on St. Simons Island. “To me it was just a matter of time.”

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