NEWS

Brian Harman aims to join group of winning southpaws

By Ferd Lewis
Published on

They eagerly line the ropes when Brian Harman plays, exhorting him on as one of their heartfelt own.

They beseech him for autographs and request photos, imploring him to "take a picture with a fellow lefty" or "sign it 'to another left-hander.'"

This week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the left-handers in the gallery try to inspire Harman to do in the 20th anniversary of the event what no one before him has done, according to an official, become the first southpaw to win this tournament. In fact, that stretches back 53 years overall, to its predecessor, the United Airlines Hawaiian Open.

Harman went out with the final group at a 15-under-par 195, in a tie for second place with Patton Kizzire, one stroke behind third-round leader Tom Hoge.

MORE: Sony Open in Hawaii leaderboard | Golf on TV this week

Statistics tell us that left-handers comprise approximately 10 percent of the population but that on the PGA Tour they are even more of a minority at less than 5 percent of the eligible players. Just three of the more than 120 PGA cardholders at the Waialae Country Club course this week, Ted Potter Jr., Greg Chalmers and Harman, are lefties.

 

And the bond between the gallery -- call them the left-handed complement -- and Harman, the emerging left-handed hope, has been unmistakable as the second-round leader has hovered at or near the top of the leaderboard this week.

With each birdie, each under-par round, their support grows louder and his gallery a little thicker by the day.

In this Harman has become the "other Lefty" on tour. He is also the last southpaw to have won a PGA Tour event, the 2017 Wells Fargo Classic.

Until Bob Charles won the Houston Open in 1963 no left-hander had even won a tournament on the PGA Tour. He is one of a handful of left-handed pros to win two or more such events. There is, at the top of the list Phil Mickelson, of course, then Bubba Watson, Mike Weir and Charles, but after that, it thins out pretty quickly.

A "small club," as Harman described it before posing for photos with a series of fans.

Harman is a curious member of the fraternity considering that hitting a golf ball is about the only thing he says he still does left-handed.

The practice, he says, dates from his childhood in Savannah, Ga., where he played baseball and first picked up a bat and swung it left-handed. Harman said his parents bought him a right-handers' baseball glove, but he would catch the ball in his right hand, remove the glove and toss it back right-handed.

But when the family moved adjacent to a golf course and Harman began pursuing golf, it was from the left side, where he has stayed and thrived.

And this looms as the most successful year for the 30-year-old Harman who has four top-10 finishes and three top-five closings in four starts this season, including a third place at last week's Sentry Tournament of Champions.

With Saturday's 2-under-par 68, he's shot in the 60s for 13 of his last 14 rounds this season. But the three-shot lead he took into the third round was overtaken and his place atop the leaderboard was lost when a putt for birdie fell 2 feet short on the par-5 18th hole.

"If I just make a couple more putts, I'll be right there," Harman said. "I have a feeling (Sunday) is going to be all right."

This article is written by Ferd Lewis from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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