PGA Tour professional Brian Harman discusses winning mentality and preparing for The PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
DIANE KNOX: This is Secret Golf with Elk and Knoxy. Hello, I'm Diane Knox. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you for listening to our podcast. Elk will be here a little bit later on, and today you're going to hear him chatting to Brian Harman. More on that shortly. We're here because Secret Golf is-- Well, what we do, is basically, we want to take you inside the minds and the games of some of the best players on the PGA Tour, the LPGA, and the Web.com.
Everyone always asks the pros, even if they don't get the chance to ask them. Because let's be honest, sometimes that doesn't happen. But everyone's always thinking, you know, watching these guys on TV, or going out to a tournament and watching them. Why do they do that? How do they do that? What were they thinking at the time? You know, how do they put their game together? What do they think about, their swing, their alignment, when they're putting? So at Secret Golf we are bringing you the answers straight from the mouths of some of the best players in the world. This is what Steve is passionate about. And he has handpicked all the players that we have at Secret Golf because, not only do they talk about their game and they've got the skills, but the personality as well. So it means that you can relate to what they're saying, it's easy to understand, and great for you to get better and improve your golf game. Also just learning a little bit more about these guys. A side to them that you don't usually get to see. So that is what we do.
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Now, with this podcast, we want to give you another look at these players. So you can hear directly from them. And that's why you're going to hear from Brian Harman very soon. He's one of our newest players at Secret Golf, and great to have Brian Harman on board. It's funny because I was actually talking to one of my friends who works for the PGA Tour. And I said to him, oh, we're doing this podcast, and it's going to be all about Brian Harman. And he said, you know, from working on tour with these guys for years, years and years, he's like, he is my number one pick. He is going to do incredible things and achieve an awful lot. He said that he's one of these guys that he's dialed in. He knows exactly what he's doing. You can see that look of determination and grit in his eyes. And from what I know of Brian Harman, and from what I've seen of his game, I would completely agree.
Brian Harman is left-handed. He's only five foot seven in golf spikes. Thirty years old and from Savannah, Georgia. His first daughter was born last year, which is very lovely. He's had two wins on tour, and one of them came at this year at the Wells Fargo Championship in Wilmington, North Carolina. North Carolina kind of topical right now because the PGA Championship is just around the corner. And Brian's going to be playing in that. We're going to talk about that a little bit later on, actually. Right now, Brian is top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. And he's actually ranked fifth in shots gained putting. Which isn't really surprising because when he won the Wells Fargo this year, he had to sink a 28 foot putt to get birdie and beat Dustin Johnson. And he did it. So there you go. There's no surprise that his stat is pretty high right now.
So that was Brian's big win of 2017. But there could have been a second one, and it could have been a major. The U.S. Open at Erin Hills just a little while ago. He finished second behind Brooks Koepka. He actually had the 54 hole lead. And you could see the disappointment when he didn't get the win at the end. I guess you can't take anything away from the way that Brooks played, and he definitely deserved to win. But Brian did fabulously, and that put his name on the map for an awful lot of people.
Steve Elkington spoke to Brian Harman on the phone just a couple of days ago, and they relived the US Open at Erin Hills this year.
STEVE ELKINGTON: How are you doing, Brian?
BRIAN HARMAN: Doing great, Steve. Thanks for having me. How are you?
STEVE ELKINGTON: Good, mate. And of course, you're up in Akron, Ohio this week getting ready for, what is this now, is it called the World Series still?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. World Series of Golf.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And what do you think about all these different events? You know, talking to Brian Harman, who just finished runner up in the U. S. Open a couple of weeks back. Became the crowd favorite because you were the smallest guy playing against this giant guy. Before I get into the Bridgestone, I do want to just mention how good you played the U. S. Open. You all of a sudden became this super big crowd favorite. What was it like for you, you know, the last day there at the U. S.? I know how disappointed you were. I saw you on the last hole. You were absolutely destroyed. But what was it like for you?
BRIAN HARMAN: Well, you know, that's why I play the game. I play the game to compete on the biggest stage. And for me, that was an opportunity to win a major. That's where I've always seen myself competing, in the biggest tournaments against the best players. So I was in the element. That's where I've always wanted to be. I was very comfortable. I felt like my game was pretty good, and just came up a little short. I poured my heart into that last day, and it just, it wasn't my day.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, no doubt. Of course, as you know, I was texting you, and nobody was pulling harder for you. And I was telling every non-believer about you. You grew up around a lot of these guys. A lot of people don't know that much about you because you came on the tour are slightly later than some of the guys. You played against, for example, you know, Justin Thomas. Tell us about-- You competed all with those guys. You beat those guys to win the Junior Amateur around Jordan Spieth when you were younger. Tell us a little bit about that.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. So the main guys when I was coming up was-- Chris Kurt was a great player. Dustin was a great player. Kevin Kisner. All these guys. You know, we ran in kind of the same circles. So I've been competing against these guys my whole life. And you know, they're sort of the-- You're always-- You know, you hate to compare yourself to other players, but you innately are going to all the time, so. Yeah, I mean, I was-- That was the part of the Open that was probably the most comfortable, is that I've been playing against those guys my whole life. So it wasn't like it was this foreign thing to me. I felt like I was ready. And I didn't think that the moment was too big. Yeah, I mean-- That Jack Lumpkin, my instructor, he told me when I was a young man, that I'd be playing against the same guys then that I am now. And he was right.
STEVE ELKINGTON: He is exactly right. And I think I can speak comfortably about this. Once you get to the last-- Once you get near the lead to the U. S. Open, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it kind of becomes a little easier, in a way, mentally because you sort of separated yourself. You're not sort of like playing on a Friday where you're worried about the cutter. And you were out there. You're swinging well. You're not worried about making bogeys. You're trying to chase, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. You know, at that point in the tournament, the back nine of the Open, there really was only two guys that could win in my mind.
STEVE ELKINGTON: That's right.
BRIAN HARMAN: I knew that I only had to beat one person. And
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: At the beginning of the week, you got to beat 156 players. So, yeah. I feel like I get more and more comfortable the deeper the tournament goes. One, like you said, you're playing well, so you know that you're still in it. And there's much less to actually worry about.
STEVE ELKINGTON: I remember Curtis Strange saying once to me that he felt the most comfortable when he got near the lead. He said his biggest problem nowadays was he can't play good enough to get near the lead.
BRIAN HARMAN: [LAUGHS] Yeah.
STEVE ELKINGTON: You know, took you a long time to figure that out. But you know. It's true, isn't it? Once you get near the lead, a lot of guys-- You've won a lot of tournaments as a kid. You won the National Junior, or the U. S. Junior. You feel good up there. And I knew that. I knew that. And you just ran into a [INAUDIBLE]. That kid played exceptional golf on an exceptional course with him. A lot of us were watching the U. S. Open this year. We didn't recognize it, being the 17 under. We always felt like the course may have been a little bit different a test. But it was what it was. What was your final thoughts take away from the U. S. Open course?
BRIAN HARMAN: You know, it obviously was not a traditional U. S. Open. I will certainly grant that point to anyone. But at the beginning of the tournament, the goal is to recognize the best player in the field that week. And you'd be hard to argue that Brooks wasn't the best player in the field that week. And so the course did its job. The course did its job. The [INAUDIBLE] did their job, and they got a great champion out of it. So the score to par to me is somewhat irrelevant. Just because some years, you know, you're going to have Opens where two overs are going to win, and some years you're going to have it where 10 or 11 unders are going to win. And all that gets dictated by weather, condition of course. The condition of the course out there was immaculate. The greens were so good that--
STEVE ELKINGTON: I was there. I was there in the beginning of the week. And I thought, if the wind blew a certain way, it could have been impossible. It kind of stayed friendly. You didn't get really criss cross winds on a lot of those holes. Is that true?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, that's true. The last day was definitely the toughest wind conditions-wise.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Wasn't so easy for you right out of the gate because it was in awkward winds for you off a left hand. You're a left-hander of course, as people don't know. You were playing into the wind off the left, is that right?
BRIAN HARMAN: Off the right starting. So number one was in to off the right. Two was in off the right. Three was in of the right. Four was in off the right. And then when I made the turn five, five was like left to right little help. So yeah. There was, gosh, probably eight or nine holes that I had to hit a tee shot. That was a different win than what I-- Almost all week, everything was kind in off the left, or down off the left. So for me, I was just letting it fly. But that was one of the things that I took from that week. Like man, I need to work on these right to left winds a little bit more than I do. But I'll bring up Jack Lumpkin again. Him and I, we always practice in left to right winds, because that's what Hogan always did. Hogan always practiced enough right to left, or straight into wind. He always wanted to fight his hook against that wind.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Accentuating a draw. You could fade into it for me, and the same thing for you, right? I mean, Hogan wouldn't even practice if it was the opposite way. And your [INAUDIBLE] exactly the same thing, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: That's exactly right. Well, for me, I started to-- If I find myself in a right to left wind, I'll do more of like, hitting a golf shot as opposed to working on my swing, or working on some sort of fundamentals. So if I get-- if I'm on a range, and the wind's blowing right to left, like all right. Let's see if I can hold this five iron against it. Let's try to ride one. Let's hit a low drive and ride it. Let's hit a hard drive and fight it. You know, just stuff like that where I'm not thinking about my swing. I'm just thinking about the shot I'm trying to hit.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. Instead of sort of trying to make this perfect swing into this awkward cross wind, you're saying create something to make the ball do something.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yes. So when I find myself in that right, I'm just playing golf shots. And I won't hit the same club twice. I'll take a driver and hit one, and then I'll take a sand wedge and hit one. However it falls.
DIANE KNOX: You know, I think you can tell that there was a lot of disappointment there. And you know Brian didn't go on and win. I know that Steve was definitely pulling for him, and he kept texting us saying, Brian's going to do it, Brian's going to do it. But you know, I guess-- What I took from what he said there is that you grow, and you learn, and you think about things that you might have done differently, or you would do differently in the future. So that was a really interesting look at that.
Now, this week is the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. And I guess in Brian's head, it's a little bit of unfinished business with the majors. So we're expecting a lot from him. I don't know if it's expecting a lot from him. I think he's expecting a lot from himself. But we would like to see Brian come out fighting and get the business done this week.
Anyway, on the way to the WGC Bridgestone last week, Brian decided to stop by in North Carolina and go to Quail Hollow where the PGA is this week. Now he actually went and played with another pro who he treats as a little bit of a mentor. And this is Steve chatting to Brian about Quail Hollow in preparation for the PGA Championship this week.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Earlier this year, you won in Charlotte, and the tour next week moves to the PGA Championship that's going back to Quail Hollow. How did you get into the tournament this year? I know you were one tournament, of course. But there's all kinds of different-- I'm going to ask you some odd questions in this podcast. Only because I think it will be interesting because it's different categories, the way you get into the event. This is correct, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: So as far as I understand it, I'm kind of with you. I have to kind of ask these questions myself. But the PGA does a running money list from last year's PGA to this year's PGA. And I think--
STEVE ELKINGTON: This year's Canadian Open. The Canadian Open.
BRIAN HARMAN: --was the cut off. Yes. So I think they take like 75 or so from that list. And then is it 25 PGA professional's they have?
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: That puts you at 100.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And then you're a winner. You're a current winner. So you would double up. So that's a minus off, right? Yeah?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah. And then I'm sure they have-- I know that every-- I think almost--
STEVE ELKINGTON: Top 50 in the world?
BRIAN HARMAN: Top 50 get in. But I think they like saying that almost everyone in the top 100 in the world play in the Tournament. So I'm not sure how they--
STEVE ELKINGTON: I think it will be interesting for people to find out how people get in, I think. Don't you?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Especially like the last couple of years. You know, I've had OK years. Nothing great. But I'll be at home watching the British Open, and they're like, why aren't you playing out there? Well, it's really hard to get in that damn tournament. I mean, there's a lot of stuff you have to do to get in. And they're like, man, you mean you're on the PGA Tour and you don't get to play? Like, no. You don't.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Exactly. Now next week, you play it. I looked up your record in Charlotte. You played OK there. You didn't play that many years there. But what is your recollection of this event or that course? I know they've changed some holes, but they haven't changed the routing, is that correct?
BRIAN HARMAN: They have completely changed that golf course. Johnson and I, on our way to Akron, we stopped in Charlotte, played. And it's going to be a completely different golf course than what we're accustomed to there.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Really? Wow. Now, I heard, for example, they changed some routing holes. Like number one now, you go to two green. You made a long-- Walk us through some of those changes on the front nine.
BRIAN HARMAN: OK, so number one is just a combination of one and two now. So they made a short par four and a medium par three into a long par four.
STEVE ELKINGTON: What's that like? Is it a hard hole? Super hard hole?
BRIAN HARMAN: It's going to be a very difficult hole. It's a very difficult opening hole for sure.
STEVE ELKINGTON: OK.
BRIAN HARMAN: So now number two is the old number three. Number three is the old number four. Those haven't changed.
STEVE ELKINGTON: OK.
BRIAN HARMAN: Number four is a new par three uphill. That's totally new. And then--
STEVE ELKINGTON: What length? What are you looking there?
BRIAN HARMAN: It's going to be like, mid 180s.
STEVE ELKINGTON: OK.
BRIAN HARMAN: 160 to 180. They could play it. It's a narrow green. It's going to be tough. The greens are new. Very firm. Five is now--
STEVE ELKINGTON: That used to be a long par five. It was a five hole. Par five, wasn't it?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yes. Yeah, it used to be a--
STEVE ELKINGTON: Easy par.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, it was a hard job, but if you got it up the fairway, it was a good par five. Now it's a uphill dogleg right par 4. That's probably 450, 460. And then six is the old-- Six is the par three, the long par three down the hill. And then seven's the same, eight's the same, nine's the same. Ten's the same. Eleven--
STEVE ELKINGTON: So hang on a second. Before you go to the back bump, Do you think they've added a stroke? Is it one or two strokes harder on the front nine, you think?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, because-- I always felt like one or two, I had a very two good chances at birdie. Yeah. Yeah. I was going to have two good chances at birdie. Well, number one is not a birdie hole now. And then three and four. Three, four, and nine are probably the three hardest holes. The old hole--
STEVE ELKINGTON: Nine was always so hard for me. I don't know why nine was a hard hole. Always missed the [INAUDIBLE] and I couldn't do anything.
BRIAN HARMAN: There's nowhere to hit it. And even if you do hit it, you've got 200 coming into the green. It's a hard hole.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And then you go over, and that's not that good either.
BRIAN HARMAN: No. No, over is no good. Over is no good anywhere out there.
STEVE ELKINGTON: OK. No good. OK. So we go to the back nine. Back nine, the 10th hole was par five. Is that the same?
BRIAN HARMAN: That's the same. Eleven's tee box is the same, but they moved the green about 40 yards back, and they added a bunker in the left fairway. But actually, I actually think they made 11 a little easier. Eleven had some trees on the left that ate everyone's lunch.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Really changed being on the left.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, and if you were in those left bunkers, the old left bunkers, you had to contend with that tree. But now is no tree, so the left bunkers are totally fine. You can hit them in there all day. Awkward green--
STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, OK. So it's a brand new green, that's what you're saying. A awkward green, you're saying. It's got slopes in it?
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of a crowned green to where if the first half of the green slopes pretty severely into you. And then it really shoots off the back. So it's an awkward green.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Now what kind of rough are we looking at? Have we got rough?
BRIAN HARMAN: It's not high, but it's that Bermuda, that the ball just settles right down into it, especially around the green. It's going to be really-- It's a good amount of rough, because it's not pitch out rough. But it's one of those where you can hit a 220 yard seven iron rough.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. That's what they want, really. That's what we want. Because, what we want is, we want a chance. But anything could happen when they give us a chance, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: Decisions. Make me think. Make me think about what I want to do with it. Don't just make me chip it out to the fairway. A three-year-old can come up with that.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Exactly. Now, number 12 was a beautiful hole. Is that the same?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yes. Number 12 is the same. Number 12 is the same.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Thirteen was a par three?
BRIAN HARMAN: Thirteen's a par three, yeah. Yeah. Pretty hole. Thirteen's great. Yeah. They haven't changed anything on the back nine from there out. Everything's the same. As it was-- They changed 16 two years ago, but it's the same as it was two years ago.
STEVE ELKINGTON: OK. So there is a little bit of a scoring opportunity once you get past 13. You've got the short 14, which you can almost drive on in one. And then you've got 15, and easy five. Or is that a four now?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yep. No, it's a five. It's a five. 14 and 15-- You've got like, kind of 10, 11, 14, 15, are kind of the holes that you can get on the back nine. And the other holes on the back nine are very difficult.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And then you've got to hang on. You've got to hang on at the end, right? I mean, you can't really go crazy. I mean, a lot of people like to attack, you know, coming in. But the hardest thing about Quail is, you can't really attack on 16, 17, and 18. I mean, you can knock them on the green, but it's not like you're going to stiff them. It's just too difficult, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. It's difficult. And you know, they changed the surface of the greens there. They were bent for, I think they were bent forever. And now they've changed to this Champion in Bermuda. And as you know, the first couple of years of that Champions Bermuda--
BRIAN HARMAN: It is going to be firm. It's going to be very firm.
STEVE ELKINGTON: So, do you have a different game plan prepared for it? Or do you expect-- How do you think about that? I know you play in Akron this week. I know you're thinking about the PGA. Have you changed anything in your mind, or what are you going to have to do?
BRIAN HARMAN: No, you know, I-- After playing it yesterday, I am more optimistic about it than I was before. I started to go to Quail, because I hit the ball plenty far, but I hit it further when I've got some roll in the fairway.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: I've never been able to carry the ball very, very far. But I've always hit it solid and straight. So if I get on some firm fairways, I can hit it as far as anyone.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. [INAUDIBLE]
BRIAN HARMAN: Yes. So playing this tournament in August at Quail, as opposed to playing the traditional Wells Fargo tournament in May, when it's over seeded and softer, it's going to--
STEVE ELKINGTON: That'd be good for you.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah. It's much better in August for me.
DIANE KNOX: That is really interesting. Good to hear Brian Harman's take on Quail Hollow ahead of the PGA Championship. You know, the notable holes, how he thinks the course is going to play. A little bit of an insider look at how things might go this week.
Now at Secret Golf, we really want to delve into the games of our players. And the way that Brian plays golf and explains his golf, to me, is really, really interesting. Steve has this way, as well, of talking to the players, and really getting them to talk about stuff that you wouldn't hear anywhere else. I know that, I think that we say that all the time. But it really is true. Steve kind of brings out this information and this side of their game that I haven't heard anywhere else, anyway.
The thing about me playing golf-- and I'm sure maybe you're the same, a lot of amateurs are going to be the same-- When things start to go wrong, you're like, ugh, no. And you almost give up a little bit. And I think the mental strength that it takes to be like, OK. What just happened? And what am I going to do to make it better and play better from now on? That is something Brian Harman really works on, and something that he's really good at, as you'll hear in this chat with Brian and Steve Elkington.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Are you one of these guys that needs to be hitting it good? And it's like-- For me, for example. I want to put words in your mouth. For me, I didn't really worry about sort of how I was going to play the course. I was more worried about how I was swinging and how I was hitting the ball. Now, once I knew I was hitting the ball OK, I just went out and played the course. Or do you have a plan? Or how does it work for you?
BRIAN HARMAN: So for me, I'm kind of a-- I'm always a back to basics sort of guy. Whenever I get off, it's always one of a couple of things. And for me, it's posture. How's my posture? How's my alignment? And I kind of let everything else take care of itself. So for me, if my alignment's good, if I know my club's aiming where I want it to start, and I know that everything else is parallel to that, well, then it's up to me. You know. I'm not a big technical, how's my positions and all these things. I know that if I'm lined up the right way, and I'm able to have the shot in my head that I want to hit, that the rest is going to take care of itself.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Do you aim? Are you a poor aimer? Where do you want to-- I should say, where do you want to aim when you get off? If I get [INAUDIBLE] and I'm still-- I'd still like to be left, but I just can't get too far left. Where do you go?
BRIAN HARMAN: Right. Right. So for me, I've done pretty well picking out a spot. Two or three feet in front of the ball.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Like Jack? Like Jack?
BRIAN HARMAN: Just like Jack. And I want my club face pointing at that. And I want everything else parallel to that. But I get off both ways. When it's off, it's one way or the other. I don't really have a-- When I start missing it, when I start mis-hitting it, you know, that's when I know that something isn't lined up the right way. Either my feet are open, or my shoulders are open, or something. I'm having to adjust down there somewhere.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. And what do you work on with like-- Jack Lumpkin is one of the great coaches of all time. And what will he be-- What will you and him be talking about? Or what will you be thinking about going into the PGA? I know you're going be talking about that alignment. You said everything falls in after that, but will there be something else? You like to draw the ball, right? Pretty much?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah. My typical one seems to turn over a little bit.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And you're not a kind of a TrackMan guy? You just feel inside out for you, you know, to play the draw? I mean, that's what your swing looked like to me.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, yeah. I have a TrackMan. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I think it gives pretty good baseline stuff. But I do not like to rely on that thing heavily. And the main reason for that is, take a driver for instance. The fastest I can make a ball go with a driver on the range is 163 or 164 miles an hour. Fast as I can get it to go. I mean, swinging--
STEVE ELKINGTON: That's it. Yep.
BRIAN HARMAN: But I get measured on a tour during the round. Even like Thursday morning, my ball speed will be up 68, 69, I've had 70 before. So I can't really depend on all the things that a TrackMan tells me because I can't recreate what happened during a tournament on the driving range.
STEVE ELKINGTON: So you're saying that you'll get a natural bump like we always did. Because I used to play practice rounds with guys, and then I would say, God, this hole is long. But then in the tournament, it was--
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. You're 30 yards down the fairway.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. I'm 30 yards further down the fairway than I am on Tuesday. So that's really interesting. Is there a part of your swing that you like to work on, or you have to watch? Whether it's your-- You talked about your posture. Is there a back swing? Or is there-- A lot of people saw you at the U. S. Open. Everyone knows who Brian Harman is now. Which I think I wrote to you.
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Everybody in the world knows who Brian Harman is now. But is there something else? Because your swing is so simple. You know, it reminds me I want to say a little bit of me. The other way around, because you don't do a whole lot in your swing. You know. You just get it up there, and then you re-cock it on the through swing. Is there an overall thought that you feel in there?
BRIAN HARMAN: You know, I've always been a big hand-eye guy. I've always been able to hit the ball. That's just part of the talent that I was given. And I try not to over-complicate things. I like to say that I've never played very well thinking about my swing. I think about my swing on the range, you know. I'll get a little across the line at time. So I try to feel nice and stretched. And you know, for me, like, there's just not a lot of manipulation at the top. Like I want to get to a spot in the top where I just feel like I just unwind. And I don't have to save anything. I don't have to--
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah, I'm always looking for that timing. That feeling of a good of a well struck ball. I'm trying to feel that. I hit a bunch of shots with my eyes closed.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Do you? Trying to feel when it should be. When it should be, right? Is that it?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like if I can do it with my eyes closed, then I just kind of blur my vision when I'm playing. And it's sort of the same thing, if that makes any sense. But I always try to separate the two. Like if I'm on the range, and I'm working on something in my swing, that's all I'm working on. I'm not worrying about where the ball's going. And I'm not worrying about how the strike is. I'm trying to accomplish one thing. And then when I get on the golf course, the only thing-- I'm either trying to test the golf course, I'm trying to test what I have that week. But I'm trying to shoot the lowest score that I can, whether that's a Tuesday or Wednesday. When I'm on the course, that's when it's let's see the best way to try to beat this place.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Beat the course.
BRIAN HARMAN: I'm very, very rarely. I try not to ever think about my swing when I'm on the golf course.
STEVE ELKINGTON: That's got to be-- That's a great attribute to someone that's just won this year and finished second in the U. S. Open already. But we saw you at the U. S. Open, and you got in trouble on a lot of holes, and you were able to escape trouble. And I was with a bunch of people at my house, and they knew I was pulling for Brian Harman so hard. And I was telling them, I said, this guy doesn't care when he misses the green. He chips it out. How did you-- Course, you have a good short game. Course, I would rather you enlighten us about what your attitude is a little bit more when you do get out of position, because you're out of position. Look, everyone's out of position the U. S. Open. How do you stay calm, and make the pitch? You've made a pitch to--
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. You're a Great pitch. What's the attitude? I mean, I know you're a fighter and all that. But realistically, watching when you're in the heat, you got to hit the shot, right?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. My attitude, usually when I miss the green is, watch this. Watch this.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: Let's watch how much I can spin this. Watch how close this one's going to go to go in. I've made a lot of shots thinking that way.
STEVE ELKINGTON: It's a really cocky a really awesome thing. I used to tell my caddie-- Hey, if you want me to stop this cameraman coming in. I used to say, no, no. Let him come in. Everybody's going to need to see this. [LAUGHS]
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. That's right. That's right. You know, if people here you say it, they're like, man, what a cocky guy. [INAUDIBLE] That's the way you have to be. It's the way. You have to love your game more than anyone else's. And you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, I wouldn't trade places with anyone. I wouldn't trade it with anyone.
STEVE ELKINGTON: That's right. And do you think that-- Because you putt really good too. You're a great putter. You putt with the mallet head, and you putt with a right hand grip, right? Or left hand low. And right hand low. Yeah. Cross-handed. You didn't do that when you were a kid, did you? I don't remember that when you were younger. Is that something new?
BRIAN HARMAN: I did. No. There was a guy named Tripp Coggins. He was the best player in Savannah. He's about three or four years older than me. And he played at my home track. And he was a great putter. He putted with a [INAUDIBLE], cross handed. He was a right handed golfer. And he was the best putter I knew. And so I copied him. And that's why I putt across hand my whole life.
STEVE ELKINGTON: It's interesting you say that because, at Secret Golf, we build a curriculum there as you're part of that team. We let you read about it. We let you hear about it. But we also let you copy it on slow-mo. You just said something really interesting. I learned everything in a lot of my stuff. Because I only got to see my coach once a year when I lived in [INAUDIBLE]. I would copy. I would copy people. I could come watch you play, or you could come watch me, and I would copy how you pitched. And I would put in to play the next shot. You agree?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yep. Oh yeah. My first couple of years on tour, I was a horrid, I mean a horrific, bunker player. I was pretty good as a kid. I just didn't have the feel for it. I just didn't have the deal. And I-- Jonas Blixt, he's one of my good buddies down here.
STEVE ELKINGTON: I know who he is. Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: He's an awesome bunker player. And statistically, the last five or six years, top fives probably. And he was practicing bunker shots one day. I brought a bag of balls in there with him. I said, what do you do in here? You're much better than I am. And he told, me gave me some tips. And my bunker game is much better now.
STEVE ELKINGTON: I was- That's great. I was looking at some statistics, and I go back and forth a little bit on my bunker play. But I was number one once on the tour in bunker play. It was the year in '95 when I won the PGA and I won the Vardon trophy. No wonder I won the Vardon trophy in '95 because my bunker play was so good. But Paul Azinger, in my mind, was the best bunker player. So I would see him, and I would go over to him, and we would bet $100 a shot in practice. We'd take five balls as a $100 walk away per shot. And I'm telling you, Azinger was so good. And basically, what I did was two things. One, I didn't mind losing $300, $400 to him, because I'd watched him hit it. You know? To me, it was a cheap lesson. I'd watch it, watch it, watch it. Sometimes I'd beat him. Most of the time I didn't. Even though I was statistically number one, he was better. But I but I'll never forget the bunker shot that guy hit. Have you ever seen it when he won the Muirfield out of that bunker when he got down to his knees?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah, he's amazing.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah. And he had a funky career, but he played with a ping-eyed two stand iron. But anyway. I just would go over there and spend $500 just to watch Azinger hit five games. Just to get the look of what he was doing.
BRIAN HARMAN: Hey, you're just investing in your future.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Exactly. Yeah. I'd go out there and make some money myself. Well, listen, is there anything else that you were thinking about next week? Is there any-- do you have to make any club changes with that? You're set? Are you good on you set for PGA?
BRIAN HARMAN: No. I don't fool around with the clubs much. You know. I don't feel like there's any need to really do anything. The only thing that I do is, I'll either carry a three iron or a 54 degree wedge.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: So when I play my practice rounds there, I'll carry both, and I'll see where. If I need one or the other a little bit more then I'll make the call there. But other than that, it'll be the same set that I bring every week.
STEVE ELKINGTON: And so what do you think now with the firm greens at Quail Hollow? And now are you're going to go over there next week, and it's going to be warm, and we're going to get some nice weather probably. What's a good round around Quail Hollow right now? Is it a 68? Can you shoot 66?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. I would say four 68's in a heartbeat. [LAUGHS]
STEVE ELKINGTON: I know you would, but you can still shoot 68 there, or 67?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You've got to think, you've got three reachable par fives with good drives. Obviously, number 10, you've got to hit a really good drive. But the other two are pretty easily reachable. I got to hole three when I played yesterday. So, it's going to be, can you stay patient enough with those firm greens? Because everyone's going to be landing balls in the middle the green, and you're going to be chipping from the back rough a lot.
STEVE ELKINGTON: You're going to have to play the kick in effect, right? You're going to have to have a 150 yardage. Land it no further than 120, right? Or something. Or whatever. If you can.
BRIAN HARMAN: If you can. But some of the greens aren't quite big enough. Or you really just don't-- you're not going to have enough room.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Will you work the lag putting? And will you work the chipping from back off the edges?
BRIAN HARMAN: Yeah. I'll be chipping from over the greens a lot in the practice round. So not matter-- I don't care how good or how high you hit it, some of the places they're going to put the pin, it's going to be almost-- it's going to be really hard not to hit in some of those places.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: It's going to be tough.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah.
BRIAN HARMAN: It's going to be hard. It's going to be a-- We could get six inches of rain, and they could shoot 20 under. I mean, who knows? But as of yesterday, it was very firm, very fast. And it was running. lt was running.
STEVE ELKINGTON: Well, good. Well, listen. You've given us some great insight into next week. And we look forward to watching you, of course, like we do every week. And of course, we hope you do well this week, too. I'll probably see you down there. And we will catch up, and have us a cold lager. How about that?
BRIAN HARMAN: Sounds like a plan to me.
DIANE KNOX: Brian Harman chatting to Elk. I love hearing about the mental side of things. I think that's such a huge part of golf, especially because you're right on that course by yourself. How you have that fighting spirit, that determination, when something goes wrong to keep on going. My favorite quote from Brian-- I think I'm going to write this down on a post-it note and keep it in my golf bag-- is, love your game more than anyone else's. That rings really true and it makes an awful lot of sense.
The other thing that was great is the fact that, these guys-- Brian Harmon just finished second at the U. S. Open. Steve Elkington has won the PGA Championship. These guys watch other golfers and copy bits of their game. Which is great for us because that's pretty much what we're giving you at Secret Golf. Go to the website, secretgolf.com, and you'll see all of our players. And what we do is we have sections that are-- Steve was talking about it with Brian-- in slow motion. So you can really break down every part of the swing. We do it with the driver and with the five iron. So you can go and check that at the website for our players.
So the PGA Championship this week is in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Quail Hollow. Steve won the PGA Championship in 1995. And coming up very, very soon on another podcast, I am going to be talking to Elk to find out what really happened during his win, what went on behind the scenes, how he was feeling. I know that the mental grit and that fighting spirit was a huge part of his Sunday round, the winning rounds, for the PGA in '95. And I definitely, definitely want to get that story out of him. It's a good story.
In the meantime, make sure you check out secretgolf.com, and, of course, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It's all just Secret Golf. I'm Knoxy. I will be back with Elk for another Secret Golf podcast very soon. Thanks for listening.