JERSEY CITY, NJ — On this rare day off on the PGA Tour, let’s take a moment to revisit a record that was set during Thursday’s Northern Trust first round at Liberty National.
It passed without much fanfare – other than a few tweets – but since the final round of the tournament has been postponed until Monday, let’s reflect on the Strokes Gain: Around the Green record set by the one, only Harry Higgs.
It was Webb Simpson’s caddy Paul Tesori who drew attention to Higgs’ heroism from the green. He tweeted to stats guru Justin Ray asking if winning 5.92 shots on the field Around the Green was a record and Ray replied in the affirmative.
— Paul Tesori (@PaulTesori) August 19, 2021
So what happened to Harry on Thursday? “I don’t know but I’ll try to figure it out so he can do it more often,” his brother Alex said.
Adam Scott played in the same trio with Higgs and a day later was still in awe of the act of black magic he had witnessed. “He had one of those days where they all come in,” Scott said. “The world turns perfectly for you when things like this happen.”
Indeed, they were. Higgs had three putts from the green and hit the par on another occasion. The fun started coming for Higgs at the 13and, his fourth hole of the day, after missing the par-5 with his second shot. Using a 50-foot putter, he drilled for the eagle.
“The first one he pitched from the green hit Wyndham’s (Clark) coin about 30 feet from the hole, jumped and went in anyway,” Scott said.
Of Clark’s coin on his line, Higgs said, “It was in a perfect spot. I figured I didn’t need him to move it since I was off the green.
From there, Higgs made ordinary birdies at numbers 16 and 6 which were offset by a series of three bogeys starting at 17.
After hitting his tee shot into the water in the fifth, Higgs contributed with his 60-degree corner to save the par 34 feet left of the green. Then his TaylorMade Spider putter, which he’s been using since the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour, took over. First, he bombed in the seventh for a birdie.
“Calling an easy 79-footer is a bit aggressive but he broke right and came back left and so if you hit him at the right speed he will self-correct,” he said.
It may stand as an obscure record, but Higgs erased Patrick Reed’s name from the ShotLink record book (+5.84 in the third round of the 2017 US Open) and etched his own in its place in a memorable way. Higgs came 80 feet from the green on the ninth, his last hole of the day, with his par-4 approach. No problem: at this point, Higgs felt it.
“If that’s as close as you’re going to get to the hole, you might as well try to hole them up,” he said.
And so he dumped another bomb.
“That was a bonus,” he said of his uphill putt to close out a crazy 2-shoot 2-under 69 way. hit green to go all the way.
Here’s the thing: Scott said it was “scary” to think what his shots would have won would have been if Higgs hadn’t half-cut a chip at 17 and failed to dash on the green from the big thing of 18.
“It should have, it could have been even better,” Higgs conceded. “But that’s the story of this beautiful game that we play.”