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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Brian Harman launched what felt like a good shot off the 17th tee at Harbour Town Golf Links on Saturday afternoon, but a breeze coming off Calibouge Sound blew it astray.
The fiery left-hander returned his 7-iron to his golf bag with a note of authority.
A few minutes later, the Savannah, Georgia, native showed a subtle fist pump after holing an 11-footer for a deft up-and-down and an unlikely par.
It was one hole in an excellent round for Harman, who matched his lowest score of the week with a 4-under-par 67 at the RBC Heritage. He climbed up the leaderboard into a tie for 10th and sits at 9-under par (67-70-67) headed into Sunday’s final round.
“No. 17 was kind of odd,” said Harman, who entered the week at No. 48 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “That was one of my better swings of the day, and it ended up in a really bad spot. The wind was blowing between south and southeast, and I think it got caught in a little gust and knocked it over the green. So to make that putt and get out of there with a three was awesome.”
Harman had just one bogey on the day — at the par-4 eighth — but he got it right back with a birdie putt of 9 feet at the short par-4 ninth hole. He birdied from 11 feet on the same hole on Friday to close out his round.
He had one of his best tee shots of the day at the par-3, 14th hole, nestling an iron to within 4 feet and converting. He followed with another birdie on the par-5 15th, using a three-shot approach and dropping a 9-foot putt into the cup.
His most memorable shot of the day came on the par-3 fourth. He missed the green right on the 194-yard hole but somehow chipped in from 18 yards for a birdie.
“I was in a really bad spot, but I hit a really, really great chip shot. I had to bump it up over a hill,” said Harman, a graduate of Savannah Christian and the University of Georgia. “With any luck, I was hoping to walk away with a three on that one, and I made a two.
“I probably got the most out of this round (of his previous two this week),” Harman said. “I don’t know if I played quite as well as I did. I made some good putts and I made some really good up and downs, had that chip-in. I’ll try to tighten up my ball striking a little bit and try to shoot a low one tomorrow.”
Harman entered the week playing some of the best golf of his career. He is ranked No. 33 in the FedEx Cup standings, with four top-12 finishes in his last seven starts. He tied for third at the Players Championship and was the final player to qualify for the Masters when he beat his fellow former UGA golfer Bubba Watson in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play to reach the quarterfinals.
He took full advantage of his opportunity in his third appearance at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 12th to secure a spot in the 2022 Masters.
This week has a more relaxed vibe, and Harman is enjoying it with his family at Harbour Town, with his parents staying nearby to the place where Harman, his wife Kelly Van Slyke and their young girl and boy, Cooper and Walter, are residing this week.
“They have been cooking for me every night and watching the kids once in a while, so it’s been great. They can come any time they want,” Harman said with a smile.
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN