Interview with Keller Harper after his victory at the 50th annual Furman Intercollegiate.
Harper wins Furman Intercollegiate on Final Hole
There may never be a better example of home course advantage than Keller Harper’s final tee shot in the last round of the Furman Intercollegiate.
The reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year came to the final hole of the 50th annual event at the Furman Golf Course tied with Wes Artac of Coastal Carolina.
Harper had held the individual lead for most of the final round, but a bogey on the 17th hole dropped him back into a tie with the Chanticleer golfer.
The Paladin senior slammed a three wood just outside the left edge of the fairway.
His shot hit the cart path to finish 15 yards from the left front edge of the green on the 400 yard hole.
“It was good to get a good break,” said Harper. “It had been awhile since I got a good break on this course in this tournament,” he added.
The fortunate break set up Harper for a short pitch that rolled to within 10 feet of the pin.
Artac’s approach shot ended up long and behind the green. Under most circumstances the Chanticleer senior’s up and down would have been considered outstanding, but with Harper well within birdie range it was not good enough.
Harper’s birdie putt slid in the side of the cup and gave the former walk-on his second win of the year with the victory on his home course.
“I played it in the middle of the hole and got a good read. I felt pretty good over it and felt like it was time for me to make one,” he said.
Harper’s final round 1-over par 72 followed his record-setting second round 63 that gave him a share of the lead after 36 holes.
The 8-under par round set the tournament record for the low second round and was accomplished by the Paladin golfer from Atlanta with a hot putter.
“I hit it close and made a lot of putts. I needed to to get back in the tournament,” said the winner.
In the final round Harper was able to open a three shot lead, but a pair of bogeys allowed Artac to force a tie by the final hole.
While Artac missed out on the title, his play and that of teammate Zack Taylor gave the Chanticleer’s an individual second and third place finish.
USC Upstate golfer Jordan Warnock tied for the low final round carding a 4 under 67 to tie for fifth place.
With two of the top-three finishers Coastal Carolina claimed the team title by four shots over Davidson.
Furman finished third.
“We continue to play well,” said Furman golf coach Matt Davidson. “We had a very good fall and the team has continued to improve this spring,” he said.
So far this year Furman has recorded four second place finishes, three of those were by 1 shot. The team has only finished outside the top-10 once.
The team also now has three individual titles, two by Harper and one by Jack Crosby.
“We have a very deep team. So far this year we have played 10 different golfers. Any line-up we have used has produced good results and that has us ready for the end of the season.
Virginia Tech and Minnesota rounded out the top-five at the tournament.
Complete scoring is available athttp://results.golfstat.com//public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=17721
In addition to his two victories Harper has also recorded third, fourth and ninth place finishes as well as two other top-20s.
Now he would like to help the team break through for a victory.
“We have been hanging around the top and we are going to get it done,” he said.
Adding his name to the list of champions in the 50 year old event was an added bonus for Harper.
Past winners have included Curtis Strange, Jay Haas, Mark Calcavecchia, Billy Andrade, Matt Kuchar and Furman’s own Brad Faxon as well as Furman’s coach Davidson.
“It is great to share a win with him (Davidson). We love playing this course and to do this at home is great,” concluded Harper.
The Paladins have two regular season tournaments left on the schedule. They will play at Wofford’s and Clemson’s tournaments before competing in the SoCon championship.