“Harman, you don’t have the stones for this,” a British fan muttered to Harman on his way by.
That is all the motivation Harman needed, as he went on to birdie the easy par-5 5th.
His par-breaker there extended his lead to three, and nobody threatened Harman for the rest of the tournament.
“That helped a lot,” Harman revealed after winning the 2023 Open Championship. “It helped snap me back into [thinking that] I’m good enough to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m going to go through my process, and the next shot is going to be good.”
Before hoisting the Claret Jug Sunday at Royal Liverpool, Harman had not won a tournament since 2017—the Wells Fargo Championship.
Yet, he has long played with a chip on his shoulder, as Padraig Harrington alluded to on Friday.
“Just the resilience, just knowing — I knew I was going to make — I figured at some point that I was going to hit bad shots,” Harman said. “With the weather, you’re going to hit bad shots. I knew that the way I responded to that would determine whether I’d be sitting here or not.”
Indeed, Harman struggled out of the gate early Saturday. The man who blistered the field Friday with his spectacular 6-under 65 through vicious winds looked unsteady on his feet.
But Harman relied on his resilient nature, as the fan between the fourth and fifth holes lit a fire inside him.
Perhaps that same fire will emerge in Italy this fall. Harman’s win in England all but secured a place for him on the American Ryder Cup team—an honor he has yet to experience.
A year ago, Harman felt crushed after barely missing out on the American Presidents Cup team.
The former Georgia Bulldog had a solid season in 2021-22, which included six top-10s and a tie for sixth at The 150th Open at St. Andrews.
Harman also made it to the Tour Championship in Atlanta, the final stop of the FedEx Cup Playoffs as only 30 players make the field.
He was playing well, but yet again, he was overlooked, and not selected to the team.
That will not happen this time around.
Harman’s victory at Royal Liverpool vaulted him up the Ryder Cup standings. He now sits in third on the American side, trailing only Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark.
“I enjoy match play,” Harman said when asked about playing team golf. “I’ve done well in all the match play tournaments I’ve played in. I had a really good junior record and amateur record in match play. I enjoy the head-to-head competition. So, yeah, I really enjoy match play.”
The last time Harman competed in a match-play for the United States was in 2009, when he helped the U.S. team defeat Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup at Merion.
The Americans emerged victorious that week, with Harman playing a key role.
Perhaps he will help the Americans again this fall, and fend off more European fans in Italy, using their anguish as motivation.
Should the Americans win, Harman will be a part of a U.S. team that wins the Ryder Cup on European soil for the first time since 1993.
That would taste pretty sweet, perhaps even better than the Guinness he drank from the Claret Jug Sunday evening.
Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.