For an artist, inspiration can come from anywhere. That includes Phil Mickelson and this week’s U.S. Open.
This is where Sam Harrop comes in. Sitting at his home piano, with a picture of a song’s inspiration hanging on the wall, he’s the one-man band behind viral hits like “When Will Tony Finau Win Again” (based on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”), “Benny An” (sung to the Beatles’ “Penny Lane”), “Turn Around, Bryson” (based on “Turn Around (Bright Eyes)” by Bonnie Tyler) and the newly released “Phil Out Loud” (sung to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran).
Ever since I started watching golf as a kid I’ve been obsessed with @PhilMickelson – just such an incredible player to watch, a true entertainer and a legend of the game. He deserved an ode.
Credit to Ed Sheeran.
RTs & YouTube subscribes (https://t.co/xdFaxMIROH) appreciated 😊 pic.twitter.com/v5O5QTST63
— Sam Harrop (@sam_golf) September 14, 2020
Harrop, who lives in Dorset, England, is a sheet music publisher and enormous golf fan.
When Finau lost the Phoenix Open to Webb Simpson in early February, that was the spark for Harrop:
I just can’t keep waiting any longer
Tony, tell me that a win is on the way
“Music and golf are my main interests,” Harrop told ESPN. “I grew up from a young age playing piano and singing and stuff. And golf I’ve been into since I was a kid as well. One day I just got this idea into my head — the Tony Finau song — and I thought I’ll just flesh it out.”
The song went viral. Finau commented on the song on Twitter. Since then, Harrop has produced an album’s worth of songs. There’s “Back For Good (Anthony Kim),” “That’s Victor Dubuisson” and a song about the rankings and a tribute to the Masters.
According to Harrop, it can take up to 10 days to create a song. He has a knowledge of songwriting. First, he’ll work out the bare-bones structure of a song, then fit lyrics to the flow of the song and then refine the lyrics. He takes his time finding the right references, lines and jokes for each parody song so that they are true to the person Harrop is writing about.
“I try to get some things in there that golf nerds like myself will chuckle at,” said Harrop, who also plays golf. “At the same time I’m trying to write something with meaning. It’s not funny for the sake of it but try and make sure the right references, the truths about these players are the underlying thing really.”
As a comedian, Harrop says his goal isn’t to just make fun of some player’s unfortunate moment or turn the song into some kind of dis track. He only picks golfers he really likes or those just a little different from the average PGA Tour pros. Beyond the funny, the songs tend to highlight — like Mickelson and Finau — those players who have had some interesting moments in their past. Some heartbreak, even. To Harrop, that’s part of the art.
“With these songs I want an equal amount of compliments and roasts,” Harrop said. “… “With any good song, original song, you’ll have moments of light and shade and you’ll paint those in there. I think that makes it easier. Those moments of heartbreak. A slight solemnness in some regard.”
In some ways, the Mickelson song is Harrop’s masterwork.
As a lefty, Mickelson is his favorite player, the player he grew up watching and rooting for. Mickelson’s early struggles and failures at majors, combined with his playing style, further cemented his place with Harrop.
And this new song had to convey that.
“He’s my favorite player,” Harrop said. “I had to do a Mickelson one. … I was thinking this needs to be a ballad-y song, something heartfelt.”
That gave us lyrics like:
So Lefty, you’ll be hitting bombs
’til you’re 70
And they won’t go straight
But you’re the king of recovery
Mickelson replied to the tweeted video, saying he was inspired by the song and Harrop’s support. This U.S. Open will be played at Winged Foot. The Mamaroneck, New York, course is the scene of one of Mickelson’s most epic collapses. Holding a 1-shot lead going into the final hole of the 2006 U.S. Open, Mickelson hit a drive into the gallery, then another shot into a sand trap. He double-bogeyed the hole to give Geoff Ogilvy the major.
As Mickelson, 50, tries to complete the career grand slam this week, Harrop’s song has a reminder: This time Ogilvy’s not there to ruin it all.
And if Mickelson, a 75-1 long shot to win according to betting agency William Hill, pulls off something amazing for his first U.S. Open title, Harrop will try to be ready to honor Mickelson.
“If I stayed up all night, maybe I could do it,” he said. “I hope I’m in that position. If he wins it, it’s the least I could do.”
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