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Avid Hunter Harman Withstands Pressure, Heckling to Win British Open

With a bowhunter's mentality PGA pro Brian Harman did "have the stones" to win.

Avid Hunter Harman Withstands Pressure, Heckling to Win British Open

Brian Harman won the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England. (Photos by Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com, and [inset] courtesy of Brian Harman)

During Saturday's third round of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England, PGA Tour pro (Link:  ) and passionate outdoorsman Brian Harman stood atop the leaderboard as he tried to steady his nerves and claim his first major championship.

But as the pressure of winning the Open mounted, there came a moment when the golfer's soul was steeled, thanks to eight words from a heckling patron.

In fact, as reported by Golf Magazine and other media outlets, those words helped turn Harman's uncertainty into a runaway victory after rounds of 67, 65, 69 and 70 for a 13-under-par overall score of 271 to win the tournament by six shots and claim the winner's purse of $3 million.

Brian Harman golf and outdoorsman
PGA Tour golfer Brian Harman is smiling most when he's out in the woods, on the water, or tending to the wildlife habitat on his recently purchased Georgia farm. (Photo courtesy of Brian Harman)

“After I made the second bogey yesterday, a guy, when I was passing him, he said, ‘Harman, you don’t have the stones for this,'" said the 36-year-old golfer from St. Simons Island, Ga. "That helped.”

Obviously, that patron didn't realize just how much mental fortitude a bowhunter like Harman has to have when he's at full draw and a bugling bull elk is going crazy only a few yards away. On Sunday, Harman used such bowhunting mental strength to outlast a rainstorm and stare down the world's best golfers in claiming what is arguably the sport's most important title and trophy.

Congrats from the Outdoors World

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Brian Harman, the “Champion Golfer of the Year” and a guy who is pretty good at hunting and fishing too, as we chronicled in this space only a few weeks ago.

On this side of the pond, Harman’s resounding victory was met with plenty of enthusiasm, including many in the world of professional golf and even a few from the outdoors world.

One was Travis "T-Bone" Turner, a Team Realtree member, a fellow Georgia resident and fan of Harman.

“Huge congratulations to fellow Hunter, Outdoorsman, and friend Brian Harman on winning The OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP (aka British Open),” tweeted Turner, co-host of Bone Collector on Outdoor Channel. “Truly a dominant performance from start to finish.”

Indeed it was. And because of it, Harman, who is a passionate bowhunter, turkey hunter, duck hunter and saltwater angler, was thrust into the limelight in a way that perhaps he didn’t expect, getting questioned—grilled, even—about his hobbies in the outdoors world.

Take, for instance, a press conference exchange after Harman's win on Sunday, when a reporter asked the new champion golfer of the year if he would celebrate with a new hunting trip or even a new rifle, seeing as how he had just won $3 million.

"I'm a bowhunter, no new rifles," replied Harman, who shoots a Mathews bow and wears Sitka Gear camo. "I had a nice week a couple weeks ago and I bought a new tractor for my hunting place, so I'll get home and I'll be on the tractor mowing grass in the next few weeks, so I'm excited about that."

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'I've Got A Lot of Layers, Man'

A tractor ride? "Yeah, I might take a whole day," said Harman, referring to working on his food plots on his new farm back home in Georgia. "Just put the phone away and go get on the tractor."

When pressed for more details on the new tractor, which will be used to work on food plots and such, Harman noted that he hasn't seen it yet because it's been on order, but it's a 105-horsepower orange Kubota.

When the reporter noted that he had never known an Open Champion to celebrate by getting on a tractor, Harman humorously retorted, "I've got a lot of layers, man. I'm like an onion."

Pressed further about how he would unwind, Harman said his first order of business is family time back in the States and wetting a hook.

"My family is up at a lake house in upstate New York, so I'm going to get there tomorrow evening and I'll spend three days with them, and we'll do some fishing and I'll get to spend some good time family," he said. "So that's where I'll disappear, and take it from there."

While he's there in upstate New York, he may need to display the same deft touch he used around the greens at Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake, as some refer to the seaside links course. Because when asked about the price of his tractor, he replied with an impish grin.

"Oh, gosh," Harman said, according to the Golf Digest report. "I don't know—I haven't told my wife how much I spent on it yet."

Focused Despite Heckling, Tabloid Headlines

If it sounds like hunting, food plots, bows and arrows, and fishing were unusual themes at one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest golf tournaments, they were because Harman was near or at the top of the leaderboard from start to finish. The former Georgia Bulldog was tied for fourth place after Thursday’s first round at 4 under par, roared to the lead and a five-shot advantage on Friday, maintained that same five-shot lead after Saturday’s third round, and won by six strokes on Sunday.

At one point, Harman was asked about how proficient he was with a bow and arrow. He noted he was accurate to 80 yards but would never take a shot in the woods beyond 40 yards. Pushed further by the British press on how good of an archery shot he was, Harman noted that no one would want to stand in front of him.

He also admitted to enjoying the task of processing his own meat, or butchering his game meat, something that readers of Game & Fish Magazine certainly understand in the field-to-table lifestyle many lead.

Brian Harman elk hunting
For PGA Tour golfer Brian Harman took this great Rocky Mountain bull elk with his bow a few years ago. Harman won the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England. (Photo courtesy of Brian Harman)

But to the British press it’s different. It's something of an irony there, given the United Kingdom’s Glorious 12th (the start of a 121-day red grouse season on Aug. 12 each year) and renowned bespoke side-by-side shotguns by makers like Holland & Holland. Harman was a target throughout the week, both in the tabloids and from the stands where he was routinely heckled. One tabloid headline even referred to Harman as the “Butcher of Hoylake,” something he reportedly chuckled at after a friend texted the headline to him.

In the end, Harman shrugged, focused on the task at hand, used such heckling and criticism as motivation and went about his business. While he is only 5-foot-7 and not one of the longest drivers on the tour, he continually hit the driver out of his bag despite the blustery, wet, chilly weather and kept it in the fairway on a course littered with troublesome sandy bunkers just waiting to gobble up a shot. Once on the green, Harman was deadly accurate, sinking 58 of the 59 putts inside of 10 feet.

Another testament to his precision in England was that Harman only bogeyed six holes during his run, and followed those up with four birdies on the following hole. Yeah, the guess here is that Harman is pretty good on an archery 3-D course too, and he’s even got a 3-D foam deer target set up in his backyard where he practices with his brother Scott and his father Eric.

A Humble Champion

While some of the Brits might not approve, it's hard not to like Brian Harman, a humble guy who shoots straight in the interview tent as well as outside with a bow in his hand. And other than playing golf at a very high level—his win will propel him to 10th in the Official World Golf Rankings—he seems very much like any other outdoorsman wearing camo at a deer camp.

“How lucky am I that I get to play golf for a living, you know?,” he said in a Golf Digest interview several years ago. “We're one big war or one big anything from all this going away, so for me it's about appreciating where you came from and just being happy to appreciate your spot in life.”

And for Brian Harman the next several days, that spot in life is in the front seat of a brand new tractor mowing and tilling up food plots.

With a 151-year old Claret Jug trophy riding shotgun next to the Champion Golfer of the Year, of course.




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