A week ago, Porter Cup director Steve Denn bubbled with excitement about the prospect of the past two tournament champions battling at the storied Niagara Falls Country Club.

That bubble burst this week, however, when 2007 champ Brian Harman — who set the record for the best score in the history of the event — withdrew due to injury. The 50th tournament begins Wednesday in Lewiston.

Harman, ranked the 28th amateur in the world by Golfweek, has a cyst on his wrist that forced him to skip the Players Amateur two weekends ago, with the intention of resting for the Porter Cup. The pain didn’t subside, however, and Harman flew to Dallas on Thursday to get his tendons stretched by a machine that his grandfather, Carl Harman, said was one of two such machines in the country. The other is located at Johns Hopkins University. He’ll have the cysts removed through surgery at the same time.

“It’s just the only time this worked out time-wise,” Harman said. “It really was tough for me to call up to Steve and tell him I couldn’t play. The Porter Cup will always hold a spot in my heart.”

The win last year was Harman’s crowning achievement as an amateur, when he won the event with a four-round record of 258. His highest other major amateur finish was in the Dogwood International, where he placed fifth in 2007.

“Everything just seemed to go right last year,” he said. “The putts were falling, and the host family was just so nice. I was really looking forward to getting back up there this year.”

Harman finished tied for 14th in the Northeast Amateur earlier this season.

Even with Harman’s withdrawal, the field for the Porter Cup is still one of the strongest for any amateur golf tournament in the country, according to Denn. The 2006 champ, Seung-Su Han, will be in attendance.

“We still have a great field,” Denn said. “I talked to Brian and he’s really sad he can’t make it because he had such a great time here last year. It was one of the highlights of his life.

“It’s unfortunate, but we have to move forward.”

Contact sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, ext. 2266.

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