Players faced a brutal crosswind for the majority of the way around Fox Prairie during the final round of the Tournament of Champions May 8, but it may have given champion Brian Harris the edge. “I’ve played in six British mid-ams, so I know how to punch the ball. I’ve practiced it before,” he explained. He not only has experience in these conditions, but has also had success in the wind. “I made the quarterfinals over there one time, and I always look at it this way – when it is really bad out like windy and rainy, half of the field gives up before they even start, so I’m already ahead of half of them,” said Harris.
He started the day at 2-over-par 73 and four shots out of the lead held by Marty Rifkin and Mike Bell at 69. But back-to-back birdies at the 9th and 10th holes gave him some momentum and confidence that he may have a chance at the win. “I couldn’t keep it going, but luckily nobody else could either,” he said. It wasn’t until 17 when he made another birdie by draining a 28-foot putt. A bogey at 18 rounded out his 71.
Bell’s round went up and down all day as well and the wind got to him on the greens. After leaving multiple putts short, he faced a lengthy birdie putt on 18 for a 74 and the tournament title. He made sure to get it three feet past the hole to attempt a win but a par secured his spot in a playoff.
Back at the first tee for the playoff, Harris grabbed the driver out of his bag and nearly put his tee shot in the creek. Bell played it safe and tried a 3-wood off the tee but flew his second shot into the trees and his next shot over the green. Harris hit his approach short and right and chipped on to 25 feet before draining another long putt for the win.
Harris qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning
the 2009 Wolf Run Club Champion, and this is his first TOC win.
Full results here