Harrington may not be in contention to win the Open again, but he knows what it takes to win this historic event.
He won back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008. After his round on Friday, the Irish golfer spoke about 36-hole leader Brian Harman.
“I would suggest he has the perfect chip on his shoulder,” Harrington said. “He’s a great player but is ignored just because he doesn’t fit the mold, doesn’t look the part.”
“I think that chip on the shoulder really drives him,” Harrington said. “I think he’s a very determined, gritty person who wants to really prove himself because, as I said, he probably doesn’t get — for how he performs, he wouldn’t get the credit. That’s the way it is.”
Harrington pointed out that the former Georgia Bulldog doesn’t always get respect. It isn’t because he plays left-handed. Harman isn’t the typical mold of a professional golfer. He is shorter than most of the guys on the PGA Tour, listed at 5-foot-7, 155 lbs. He also isn’t someone that hits it a mile long off the tee.
Yet, the 36-year-old went onto a challenging course Friday morning and shot a bogey-free 65. Only 47 players shot par or better in round two, roughly a quarter of the field.
The 2009 Walker Cup member holds a five-shot lead on the field. In the last 40 years, when someone holds a lead like that, they usually win. In the last eight times this has happened, that leader has gone on to win a major championship.
Harrington noted that Harman is a solid player who hits the ball consistently, tee to green, and is a lovely putter.
The 2-time PGA Tour winner has gained 7.4 strokes per round on the field. That number is better than Tiger Woods, who averaged 7.3 strokes per round in the 2000 U.S. Open, per Kyle Porter of CBS Sports.
Harman doesn’t have to fit the mold. That’s the glorious thing about golf. Anyone can win regardless of stature or length. It’s about who plays the best golf for four straight days, and he is at the halfway mark of winning his first major championship.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and on Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.