24 July 2023
American Brian Harman ended a six year barren run to win The Open Championship by six shots at a sodden Hoylake.
The last day drama many had hoped for failed to materialise as Harman carefully plotted his way round the links, finishing on -13, and the only player in the field to shoot under par in every round over the four days.
Sunday started with Masters Champion Jon Rahm six shots back, following an outstanding 63 (-8) on Saturday; his lowest ever round in a major and a new course record for The Open at Royal Liverpool.
For context Rahm had only just made the cut at +2 and started Saturday in a tie for 39th, he would end Saturday in a tie for 2nd, his final position, alongside Jason Day, Tom Kim and Sepp Straka after a birdie at the 72nd hole.
Tommy Fleetwood started the day seven shots back with Day and Rory McIlroy, many people’s favourite for this week, nine shots back.
The conditions, simply horrendous on Sunday left the chasing pack with virtually no chance to attack the links course with heavy-rain, mist and strong winds making for a miserable Sunday.
Local man Fleetwood failed to make the most of his opportunities with two par rounds on Friday and Saturday, McIlroy similarly struggled with elements of his short game and putting stroke. McIlroy will have to wait until The Masters next year, just short of 10 years since his last Major win for another chance to add that 5th Major he’s dreaming of.
There was some joy for home fans, as club member Matt Jordan finished in a tie for 10th on -4 and qualified for The Open at Royal Troon next July, a brilliant performance from the qualifier who also had the honour of hitting the first tee shot on the opening day.
The weekend belonged to Harman – only the third left-hander to win after Bob Charles in 1963 and Phil Mickelson in 2013 – became the 13th player in Open history to hold onto a five shot lead after 36 holes, where only two had failed to then lift the Claret Jug.
Not known for his length off the tee, Harman stuck to his religious ‘waggle’ pre-shot routine that became very much a talking point, as he setup for every shot, carefully navigating any hazards. His final approach to the 18th green finding the right hand-side bunker was only his 3rd bunker shot of the Championship.
After two days play he had made 44/44 putts inside 10ft, with his longest putt holed at 32ft. That placed him 50th in that particular stat, and was around the same distance World Number 1 Scottie Scheffler, who ranks 157th in stroke gained/putting had holed. It was also 10ft shorter than any putt McIlroy had holed over the four days play.
It is worth noting that since his last win at the Wells Fargo in 2017, Harman has had more top 10 finishes than anyone else on tour, so as much as his win may have surprised many, Harman himself knew it was only a matter of time until he got the elusive ‘big win’ he had been waiting on.
Moving up to World Number 10, he is almost certain to make his first Ryder Cup appearance in Rome this year, as well as gaining exemptions to The Masters, US Open & US PGA for the next five years, and every playing of The Open until he is 60 years old.
He will also benefit from a five year exemption on the PGA Tour, 10 years on the European Tour and 600 FedEx Cup points.
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