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Players Championship

Players Championship: Brian Harman's response to being called a 'grown man' was exactly what you'd expect

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Brian Harman reacts on the 17th green during the third round of the Players Championship.

Jared C. Tilton

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Yes, we get it. Brian Harman is short. He's barely 155 pounds soaking wet. He doesn't hit it as far as the so-called "big boys" on the PGA Tour. We know, we know. He knows. He's heard it all. Over and over again.

And yet, when you watch him go off like he did at the Players Championship on Saturday, where he threatened the TPC Sawgrass course record and ultimately settled for an eight-under 64, his size or so-called lack of power is the last thing that comes to mind. He hit five drives north of 305 yards during his third round, none farther than a 327-yard nuke on the par-4 15th that signaled the man was in a different type of zone. He was coming off back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14, each putt trickling in with perfect pace as all Harman putts do. 

That was precisely when the pressure started to mount. Harman, who finished the first round at even par (T-75), had climbed all the way back to 14 under. He was inching closer and closer to the lead, which always leads to more fans, more commotion, more cameras. Hell, they even had the extra high-definition steadicam out there following him. That's when you know it's getting real. 

More than a few guys out here would shrink in a similar situation. There was a time when that was the case for Harman. It no longer is. 

"There's certainly times early in my career when the TV cameras start showing up and I'm like, OK, great, now they want to film me or whatever," Harman said. "But nowadays it's like, well, they're here because I'm playing well, and I'd rather be playing well than not playing well, so we'll just go with that."

Oddly enough, there was another moment earlier in the round when Harman almost did shrink. After playing the first eight holes in four under, the reigning Open champ blocked his drive into the trees down the left side of the par-5 ninth. He was forced to attempt a shot right-handed, his natural side, but it went about six feet. That could have been it right there. Nothing kills the vibe like a double or worse. Harman chipped it out to safety, ripped a 5-wood onto the green and grinded out his bogey. Then he got back to work. 

Harman's back-nine 31 earned him solo third position entering the final round, which will put him in the penultimate group as he looks to chase down Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark, two of the tour's "big boys" who each average 302 yards-plus off the tee. Fortunately for Harman, length is not as big of a factor at Pete Dye's crown jewel. Even if it was, though, he wouldn't care.

"I just refuse to use that [length] as an excuse as to why I can't win big golf tournaments," Harman said. "I just won't accept that." 

Sahith Theegala, who played alongside Harman and is 12 under (T-6), refused to play into that narrative, too. 

"He just has no holes in his game," Theegala said of his playing partner. "He hits it sneaky long. He's right up there with me on a lot of drives. 

"I wouldn't even say he plots his way around because I would say he's a pretty aggressive player," Theegala continued. "He just stripes, he's just a striper. I've probably played with him five or six times now, and he's always been a great putter. When he matches everything up, it's pretty fun to watch."

Striper, grinder, plotter. Call him what you want, but one thing Brian Harman knows he is is a grown man who can hang with "the big boys." In fact, one reporter, when asking Harman a question on Saturday, started by saying "you're a major champion, you're a grown man." Harman promptly interjected in the exact manner you'd expect him to. 

"Damn right."