PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After some confusion, diminutive left-handed rookie Brian Harman (right), who broke the course record with a 61 at the Honda Classic earlier this year, was given a 12:20 tee time to go off as a single at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
The first alternate, Harman first thought he might get into the Players field when Fred Couples withdrew earlier this week, but Couples was in a separate category and wasn't replaced. Then things got strange.
Fighting back pain, D.A. Points withdrew from his 8:39 a.m. starting time at the last possible moment Thursday, after Carl Pettersson had played his tee shot on the first tee. Points’s name had been called on the tee, and although he was on site, Harman could not immediately be found on the practice putting green or driving range, and thus couldn't get to the tee in time. But because Harman had followed protocol in giving his phone number to officials, he wasn't in the wrong.
"We didn't have time to put him with his group, because they had already teed off and gone on to the second hole," said director of rules and competition Mark Russell, who's been with the Tour for 31 years. "Very unique situation. I mean, I've never seen anything like it, really."
Although a player in physical distress often tells the first alternate to be ready, Points, who lost a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, did not notify Harman. According to Robert Garrigus, the third member of the group, Harman was hanging out in the caddie area, unaware of what was happening. It appeared he had been bypassed yet again, but a few hours later he was given a spot in the field, five minutes before the first afternoon tee time.
"Although we are not aware of this specific situation occurring previously on Tour, the decision to assign Harman a new starting time is consistent with the PGA Tour’s standard procedures for substitutions and withdrawls," the Tour said in a statement. "Alternates are asked to be on-site, inform the Committee of where they will be, and keep their mobile phone on so they can be contacted. Once a withdrawl occurs, the Rules Committee assesses the timing of the situation and determines whether it is reasonable for the player to make it to the tee for the original time, or if a new starting time should be assigned."
Harman was wedged between the threesomes of Chad Campbell, Billy Mayfair and Rod Pampling--they started on 10 at 9:11--and the first afternoon tee time off No. 1, the 12:25 threesome of Chez Reavie, Kevin Stadler and Josh Teater. Harman is scheduled to play by himself again at 7:10 a.m. Friday, five minutes before the first threesome is scheduled to tee off at the 10th hole.
"Brian did nothing wrong," said Russell. "We just didn't have time to react to it."
Harman finished with a one-over 73. He will not be alone on Friday, however. Since Paul Casey withdrew with a shoulder injury, Harman will join Bud Cauley and Ryan Moore at 8:50 a.m.
(Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)