To mark the 20-day countdown until the start of this year’s Masters, we will be running the rule over 20 players who the market suggest can contend at Augusta next month. This is by no means a definitive list and will have some noticeable omissions. We hope though that it will give you an idea of who you can expect to make a run at the Green Jacket.
Today we look at Brian Harman, a man who last year claimed his second PGA Tour title as well as finishing 2nd at the U.S. Open. Born, educated and a current resident in Georgia, Harman has followed up his best season on the PGA Tour in similar fashion so far in this new season, and he will be relishing the chance to feature in the first major of the season in his own backyard.
Harman has only once played in this prestigious event, missing the cut on his debut in 2015, however given the difficulties debutants face at this event, it is no great shock that he failed to make the weekend.
As we are reminded each year, you have to go back to Fuzzy Zoeller’s win in 1979 for the last time a debutant won this event and debuts here are often a case of trial and error, with the exceptions of some superstars who have contended at the first time of asking.
Harman himself looks a lot better player than he did three years ago, so a much better performance this time around would be no surprise and is somewhat expected from the World No.22.
Left-handers famously play well here at Augusta, with Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson all winners of a Green Jacket. Mickelson and Watson have both won here on multiple occasions, so Harman will hope he can enjoy success too, now he’s got another crack at this wonderful venue.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
A great putter, Harman will be looking to build on what he learned here over the course of the week in 2015, as well as any practice rounds this time around. The ability he has when on the greens should serve him well if he can figure out the intricacies of the Augusta greens.
At time of posting, Harman has just completed his second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Harman was T7 after round one, and got into a tie for 2nd early in his second round, before a bad run saw him slip to +5 for the day. In the end he finished his round at +3 and -1 overall. He will make another cut and will give himself a chance to once again climb the leaderboard over the weekend.
He has been one of the more consistent players of the season, even if that 3rd PGA Tour title still alludes him for the time being. Harman continues to put himself in contention, which will continually add to his experience and make him an intriguing prospect ahead of each of the four majors.
Despite not playing in last year’s renewal of this event, Harman did make his third start in each of the other three majors, posting career-best finishes at both the U.S. Open (T2) and the PGA Championship (T13), with a missed cut at the Open Championship sandwiched in-between.
The word featured here a couple of times now is experience and that is something he would have garnered from his T2 finish at the U.S. Open, his first time being in contention for a major. Whilst he didn’t get over the line and his fourth round 72 was the worst of the week, he certainly did enough that week to impress and suggest he can go on a win a major in 2018.
Whether the Masters is his best opportunity to win a major, we won’t know until he’s played again this time around, but it will certainly help being close to home and hopefully he can get to grips with the course this year. After opening with a round of 76 last time he was here, he bounce back shaving off four strokes on Friday, but it wasn’t enough to make the weekend. Who knows how he would have done had he of made the weekend in 2015, but we haven’t got long to find out what he has to offer on his second visit.