Harman keeps cool, calm, collected

By Tom Layman
Published on

CROMWELL, Conn. -- Brian Harman had the walk of a guy who has been there before as he strolled up the 18th fairway yesterday at TPC River Highlands.

He said all the right things after his second round, like he would be comfortable in a final pairing with Bubba Watson. After stuffing his final approach shot on his 54th hole, the 28-year-old with one PGA Tour victory in his career will get a chance to bolster his resume.

Harman shot a 5-under 65 in the third round of the Travelers Championship to grab hold of the lead at 14-under with a whole host of scenarios playing out behind him at the birdie-friendly grounds.

It is the second time Harman has carried the 54-hole lead into a final round. The first time, he converted it for a win at the John Deere Classic in 2014.

"I'll get a good night's sleep and go through my normal routine in the morning just like any other day," Harman said. "The work that I put in before this tournament is kind of showing itself."

Harman nearly put his approach on 17 in the drink when he didn't catch all of his shot from 111 yards. But he just stayed up in the rough and saved his par. On the 18th, with a short iron in his hand, Harman left himself a 4-footer, which he converted for birdie and the overall lead.

"I was trying to hit about a 143-yard shot that was going to land just short of it," Harman said of 18. "I hit a nice one. That's about all that was going through my head. I know you all really think that we are really calculating out there, but that was it."

Watson finished a shot back at 13-under, after firing a 2-under 68. The two-time Masters winner was the 36-hole leader and only relinquished that spot with a bogey on the 12th hole yesterday. Graham DeLaet will be the third member of the final group after shooting a 6-under 64, to match Watson at 13-under.

Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey and Zach Johnson are lurking at 11-under, while Chris Stroud bogeyed three of his final six holes to sit 4 back at 10-under.

A threat of rain overnight and into the morning has forced the PGA Tour into playing in groups of three starting at 11:30 a.m. today with groups going off the front and the back tees.

"It changes everything," Watson said of the potential conditions. "Changes how you hit shots. Balls (are) going to start backing up, a couple of mine backed up today, so it changes everything how you play the game."

Third rounds at a golf tournament aren't called moving days for no reason. Only 13 of the 72 golfers on the course shot over par yesterday, and the morning play proved to be a fruitful place for low scores. Snedeker really set the tone early with a 7-under 63. He birdied three of his first four holes and nearly holed out on 17 to get a shot closer.

Snedeker answered questions while the leaders were just getting started and he begged Mother Nature for some monsoon-like conditions to keep them as close as possible. Those heavy rains never came, but the golf gods must have heard his plea to keep them within shouting distance.

Watson had only one bogey yesterday, but it was a grind for him, as he missed several fairways and greens and never really found his first-round form when he had nine birdies. Watson took a 2-shot lead at 13-under after saving birdie on the par-5 sixth hole, when he found himself under a tree to the right of the green.

DeLaet's eagle at the 15th proved that taking advantage of the finishing holes at TPC River Highlands is crucial. He dropped his drive about 7 feet from the cup and converted on his eagle to get to 13-under. He recorded three straight pars to put himself in the final group.

"Judging by the crowd's reaction out there, it was pretty close to a one," DeLaet said.

This article was written by Tom Layman from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.