Brian Harman shot a final round 5-under par 66 Sunday to edge Zach Johnson by one shot and win the 2014 John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
It was the first PGA TOUR victory for the left-handed 5-foot 7-inch 150-pound pro, who earned $847,000 in prize money and the final exemption into next week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in Hoylake, England.
Harman left the golf course and immediately went to Quad Cities International Airport to join 24 other Open Championship-eligible players on the John Deere Classic charter jet bound for Manchester.
"I just knew if I stuck to my game plan and did the things that I wanted to do, I knew that my golf swing was probably as good as it's been all year," said the 27-year-old Harman. "I knew if I could just get a couple of putts to drop, I’d be in good shape."
The former Georgia Bulldog finished the tournament at 22-under par 262 on rounds of 63-68-65-66.
Three-time John Deere Classic champion Steve Stricker played with Harman in the final twosome of the day, but could not mount a challenge, shooting a 1-over 72 to finish tied for 11th at 15-under.
Johnson applied the pressure to Harman with a 7-under 64, including a 30 on the back nine. But he could not manage a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff.
Harman's finacee, Kelly Van Slyke, greeted the new champion on the green, but did not accompany him to England: her wedding shower is scheduled for next weekend. The couple plans to tie the knot Dec. 13.
2013 champion Jordan Spieth shot a final round 5-under 66 to finish his spirited title defense at 16-under and a tie for seventh. He had large supportive galleries following him all week, and said he would be back.
"I really like it a lot," Spieth said. "I'm very, very loyal to the tournaments that I feel like launched my career. I don't see myself not coming back."
Harman, the tournament's 20th first-time winner, will be back, too, next year to defend his title.