ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Five tournaments into his rookie season, former Georgia golfer Brian Harman realized his game wasn’t suited for the PGA Tour.
He played too fast.
At a time when tournament golf is getting unwanted attention for taking too long, Harman is among several young players setting a good pace, not to mention a good example.
But after more than a month of standing around, he needed help. So he called Lucas Glover, a mentor with a quick trigger.
“I talked to him about playing slower,” Harman said. “I said, ‘Look, man, it’s driving me nuts out here.’ ”
Glover gave him a few tips from his own experience: Be the last player to leave the tee box. Walk slower to the ball. Get water when you’re not thirsty. Use the bathroom even if you don’t have to go. Take a little more time studying the yardage book.
A week later, Glover was driving from Sea Island to south Florida for the Seminole Pro-Member when he asked his girlfriend to check the scores from the second round of the Honda Classic. She mentioned that some guy named Brian Harman had shot 61.
“The kid listens well,” Glover said.
Harman is not alone, which is encouraging. The shame of it is that you never hear of slow guys who are consciously trying to pick up the pace. It’s always the other way around.
Rory McIlroy gave golf a jolt of energy with his exciting game, and adding to his appeal was how quickly he went about his business. He can be an inspiration to young golfers not only with the way he plays but his pace. Now, however, even Boy Wonder has joined the ranks of fast players who have learned to slow down.
He traces that to the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament, although he places the blame on his epic meltdown to his swing and his putting, not how long he had to wait. McIlroy was in the last group with Angel Cabrera, as fast as any golfer on the planet. Ahead of them were K.J. Choi and Charl Schwartzel, with Jason Day in the next group.
“I played with Cabrera, who’s really quick,” McIlroy said. “After that, I realized I’m just going to slow it down a little bit, and it’s helped. I hate slow play. I don’t want to get frustrated by me playing quick and having to wait all the time. I just sort of try to take my time a little more.”
Pat Perez is one fast player who hasn’t adjusted. He has just learned to accept slow play.
Perez was paired with one of the more notorious snails in the final group one year when someone asked him if the pace would hurt his chances. Perez has never blamed his failures on anyone but himself, and he wasn’t about to start.
“I wait on every single shot, every single day on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I’ve gotten really used to doing that.”