Having Bob Tway’s younger brother Scott Tway as his caddie was not the only local connection for newly crowned British Open (The Open) champion Brian Harman.
Some may remember that Harman was in last place among those to make the cut in the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. Because there was an odd number of golfers in the field, Harman was to be first off by himself on Saturday morning, but by PGA of America rules he was to play with a marker. That honor went to local teaching professional Tracy Phillips, who was also in the midst of a great stretch of play of his own with impressive performances in the Senior PGA Professional Championship, the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open.
Phillips remembers that Harman was not initially thrilled to learn he had to play with a marker and didn’t say much of anything to Phillips the entire front nine. By the time they reached the turn, however, and Phillips was several shots ahead of Harman, he seemed to loosen up.
“He holed out a bunker shot on eight and then birdied nine and that put him a better mood,” Phillips said. “We got on the 10th tee box and he asked me if I played at Oklahoma State. Then he told stories about being recruited by Mike Holder and Mike McGraw.”
Harman, listed at 5-foot-7, also found someone he was taller than in the 5-5 Phillips and the two actually have similar games. Harman is a wizard around the greens but few have a better short game than Phillips. Harman wound up shooting 1-over 71 and Phillips was with him shot for shot until double bogeys on 15 and 18 raised his final tally to 75.
“You could tell he was a grinder and pretty much all business,” Phillips said. “It’s an incredible testament to him what he was able to do in the Open. For him to hear from the crowd that he didn’t have the stones to do it and then get it done. Look at all the putts he made and he was No. 1 in driving accuracy.”
Southern Hills Director of Golf Cary Cozby was to play as a marker on Sunday morning but Tiger Woods dropped out on Saturday and the field was back to an even number of players.