ERIN, Wis. — Brian Harman’s chance to become the first left-hander to win the U.S. Open slipped away early on the back nine.
He bogeyed the 12th and 13th holes. In the group ahead leader Brooks Koepka didn’t slip up.
The leader going into the final round Sunday, Harman finished with an even-par 72 tie for second with Hideki Matsuyama at 12 under, four shots behind Koepka.
Harman dropped back on the back nine after going bogey-free on the final nine holes over his first three rounds.
"You’ve got to tip your cap. He went and won the golf tournament on the back nine," Harman said.
He said that he didn’t believe in moral victories. Still, this was a pretty good weekend for the 30-year-old Harman, who was playing in just his eighth major. It was just the third time he made the cut.
A guy considered a short-hitter made quite an impression on the longest course in U.S. Open history. The 5-foot-7 Harman said he thrives on playing with what he calls a proverbial chip on his shoulder that dates to when he was a kid playing football.
"Yeah, I’ve never been a big, big man in any sport I’ve played," he said. "Yeah, it’s definitely something I draw upon."
He showed spunk after holding off Dustin Johnson at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, a victory that secured Harman a spot at Erin Hills.
True to form, Harman didn’t wither away on Sunday. either.
He birdied two of the next three holes following his bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13.
"I made the birdie right there at 14 … then (Koepka) birdied 14, 15, 16," Harman said, "and that was kind of lights out."
Trailing by three shots at the 17th hole, Harman desperately needed to make a long birdie putt to keep alive his faint championship hopes. Up ahead, fans were cheering on Koepka.
Harman’s 26-foot attempt from the edge of the green strayed left. He had to settle for par.
His tee shot at the 18th hole landed in a bunker. He looked dejected at times as he made his way up to the green, with Koepka’s victory already assured. Harman ended up closing with a bogey.
"Good job," his wife, Kelly, said as she greeted her husband with a kiss.
Harman won the 2003 U.S. Junior Amateur. On Sunday, he picked up his sixth top-10 finish and third top-3 finish since joining the PGA Tour in 2012.
A couple fewer mistakes on the back nine might have given Harman a better chance at a major breakthrough.
"Yeah, if you had told me I was going to shoot 12 under this year at a U.S. Open and not win," he said, "I would have taken the bet for sure."