NAPLES, Fla. – Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire had played plenty of golf together before joining forces for the 30th QBE Shootout.
That doesn’t mean they’re used to cheering for each other.
“We’re normally trying to get into each other’s heads,” Kizzire said after the St. Simons Island, Georgia duo shot a best-ball, final-round 61 in blustery weather to reach 30-under and win the unofficial QBE at Tiburón Golf Club. “And this week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird.”
Added Harman: “I was hoping I wasn’t going to throw him for a loop.”
For the second straight year Graeme McDowell finished second, this time with a new partner, Emiliano Grillo. They made par on 18 to finish 29-under, one back.
Three teams shared third, two back: Charles Howell III and Luke List, who was 9-under on his own ball over the last nine holes as they shot 61; Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau (62); and Charley Hoffman and Gary Woodland (63), their highlight coming when Woodland aced the 202-yard 5th hole.
Tony Finau and Lexi Thompson, the only LPGA player, shot a final-round 65 to finish seven off the lead and seventh in the 12-team field.
At first glance, Harman and Kizzire seemed like a Mutt-and-Jeff team. They made for a funny team picture, as the 6-foot-5 Kizzire is almost a foot taller than his left-handed teammate. They weren’t even slated to play together. Harman was a late add to the field after Davis Love III pulled out to be with his ailing mother.
Still, there were plenty of reasons why Harman and Kizzire worked.
For starters, they’ve known each other since they were 12, when they began to clash in junior events. Harman, from Savannah, Georgia, and Kizzire, who grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, took turns beating each other at AJGA, Southeastern Junior Golf Tour and other regional and national tournaments.
“I think there’s a picture of him holding the first‑place trophy and me holding the second‑place trophy,” Harman said, “but he was short and pudgy then.”
Kizzire did not dispute this.
“At a young age I think I got him a few times,” Kizzire said. “But there in our teens he had my number. We had a lot of good matches.”
The second reason why they worked nicely as a team: They’re not only used to competing against one another, largely in practice rounds back home, they’re also fishing buddies. Harman, an avid outdoorsman, provides the boat.
“He bought a boat,” Kizzire said, “and I called him and I said, ‘I heard I won a boat.’ No need to buy one if your buddy has got one.”
Added Harman: “He’s only got to help me clean it afterwards.”
Who is the better angler?
“Freshwater, he’s probably got my number,” Harman said, “but saltwater, it’s not a competition.”
Added Kizzire: “I grew up inland in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so we didn’t have a lot of saltwater around. He grew up in the marsh, out on the ocean, he’s diving for lobsters and catching all kinds of fish. I have to pick his brain a little bit.”
The biggest reason why this team made sense: They both love this time of year. Harman logged six top-10 finishes, five of the top-5s, in his first six starts last season, a spectacular run that encompassed late 2017 and early ’18.
Kizzire nabbed his first two wins, at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the Sony Open in Hawaii, over the same period.
’Tis the season to be jolly? For them it is.
Both, alas, cooled off considerably the rest of the way, with Kizzire sweating it out to nab the 30th and final spot in the TOUR Championship and Harman missing the season-ending tournament at East Lake as he finished 48th in the FedExCup.
“All of a sudden I found myself in contention to make the Ryder Cup,” said Harman, also a two-time TOUR winner. “All that stuff just kind of overwhelmed me just a little bit, and I just started pressing towards the end of the year.”
Well, the end of the season, anyway. The end of the calendar year has been good to him, and Kizzire. It continued to be in Naples. The winning stroke came when Kizzire reached the green with a 7-iron at the par-5 17th and rolled in the eagle putt. Harman, who had hit his second shot inside 10 feet, didn’t even need to putt.
Asked why he loves this time of the year, Kizzire shook his head, as did his partner.
“Golf is such a personal journey,” Harman said.
True enough—except when you play with a friend.
Link to article: Click here