A dominant display from America’s Brian Harman saw him win the Open Championship by six shots at Royal Liverpool.
The 36-year-old led the tournament since Friday morning and was never in serious jeopardy as his challengers faltered. Tom Kim, Sepp Straka, Jason Day and Jon Rahm completed a four-way tie for second place.
The rain lashed down over the Wirral peninsula on the final day of play, providing alien conditions for the Georgian left-hander. He coped admirably, recovering from a poor start to stretch out an unassailable lead.
Harman showed early signs of nerves, dropping a shot on the second and becoming too familiar with Hoylake’s long grass for his liking. The passionate bow hunter found himself in the sights of some of golf’s biggest names, but the lead he had gained with four consecutive birdies before Friday lunchtime was never truly threatened.
The 2023 Open Champion in waiting was complimentary of the Hoylake fans throughout the tournament, but one negative comment on Saturday provided the motivation to seal his first major championship.
He said: “After I made the second bogey yesterday, a guy, when I was passing him, he said, ‘Harman, you don’t have the stones for this.’ That helped.”
Two of Saturday’s finest performers in Viktor Hovland and Cam Young fell away after poor starts. The promising American Young failed to escape a steep bunker on the fifth and did not threaten for the rest of the day.
Early on, world number one Scottie Scheffler and Poland’s Adrian Meronk carded early 67s, proving that decent scoring was possible on the now sodden course.
It was just after midday that the heavens truly opened. Brollies, waterproof trousers and a strong constitution were a must. The downpour produced a snaring effect on both the rough and the perilous greenside bunkers. Straight hitting became the order of the day.
In stark contrast to the Hoylake course, the birdies started to dry up in the early afternoon. Scoring akin to that of Scheffler and Meronk proved out of reach for most, a blitz similar to yesterday’s from Jon Rahm now impossible.
The round of the day came from South Korea’s Tom Kim. The 21-year-old shot a superb 67 in the worst of the weather and has two top-ten finishes in his last two major starts. A promising career awaits the talented youngster.
After a superb opening day 66, Southport’s Tommy Fleetwood could not convert the passion of the local fans into any sort of momentum over the next two rounds. It was much the same for Fleetwood on Sunday. The 32-year-old shot a one-over par 72, and with just three birdies across his final 36 holes, his title tilt never really got going. A triple-bogey six on the penultimate hole served as a miserable end to what could have been a great week.
Hoylake’s Matthew Jordan was a model of consistency all week, earning himself plaudits and a cheque for over £200,000. The 27-year-old hit the first tee shot on Thursday morning and was never overawed by the occasion, eventually finishing tied for 10th spot. He hovered around the top 10 for the majority of the tournament and can be very pleased with his performance.
Rory McIlroy came out all guns blazing, with three birdies in his first five holes. As has become something of an unwanted habit for the Northern Irishman, missed opportunities across the first three days left him with too much to do. Two bogeys on the back nine sealed his fate and his wait for a fifth major goes on.
Champion Harman picks up a cheque for $3million and is a shoo-in for a place on a very strong looking American Ryder Cup team. How does he plan on celebrating his victory? A southern man to his core, his lifestyle is a lot less rock-‘n’-roll than former Open Champion John Daly.
He said: “I’ll get home and I’ll be on the tractor mowing grass in the next few weeks, so I’m excited about that. Just put my phone away and go get on the tractor. I’d probably call it 40 acres that needs to get mowed.”
— MerseySportLive (@merseysportlive) July 23, 2023
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