April 20, 2024

Open Championship: Brian Harman shows resilience, destroys the field

As the world’s best players clashed at Royal Liverpool on Sunday, Brian Harman showed why he deserved the Claret Jug.

He showed great resilience, bounced back with a vengeance time and time again, and carded a 1-under 70 en route to his first major championship victory. He finished the tournament at 13 under par.

No other player was within six strokes of him.

Harman destroyed the rest of the field, proving that he is one of the best players in the world. He may even deserve a spot on America’s Ryder Cup team, deserving recognition for the golfer of the year who is now a champion.

The former Georgia Bulldog went almost wireless at the 151st Open Championship, as he has been the talk of the town in North West England since Friday morning.

Playing through windy conditions, Harman had his best round of the championship on Friday, shooting a 6-under 65 on a day when the course average was north of 2-over 73.

HOYLAKE, England – Brian Harman hit the 2nd green on the second day of the Open at Royal Liverpool on July 21, 2023.
Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

He slept on the 36-hole lead, with a five-shot advantage, but he didn’t let the pressure of golf’s major championship get to him.

On Saturday, Harman appeared to be falling out of the gate, bogeying two of the first four holes to fall back to 8 under.

Many felt that he would continue to fall down the leaderboard.

After all, Harman hasn’t won a tournament since the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship.

But the player ranked 26th in the world proved that he would not buckle under pressure.

He quickly righted the ship at the easy par 5 5th, making three more birdies the rest of the way to shoot a stress-free 2-under 69.

Similar feelings could be felt on Sunday, with the rain relentlessly pelting Royal Liverpool and the Open Championship pitch.

Harman had no trouble with it, even though he bogeyed two holes early in his round like Saturday: the par-4 2nd and the par-5 5th.

At the 5th, Harman sent his tee into a gorse bush, forcing an unplayable penalty.

Brian Harman, England, Royal Liverpool, The 151st Open

HOYLAKE, England – Brian Harman reacts as he looks for his ball in the rough on the 5th hole on Day Four of the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 23, 2023.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

He could have easily made a double or worse, but Harman played the hole conservatively on the way to bogey.

On the next hole, at the par-3 6th, Harman relied on his resilience – that chip on his shoulder that Patrick Harrington mentioned on Friday – to hit a long iron from 13 feet.

Harman drained the putt, squashing any hope of anyone else chasing him from behind, including the likes of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Tommy Fleetwood.

Then, at the tough par-4 7th, Harman made another birdie. At that point, you could have started engraving his name into the Claret Jug.

Brian Harman, England, Royal Liverpool, The 151st Open

HOYLAKE, England – Brian Harman celebrates after hitting the 14th green on Day Four of the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 23, 2023.
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

He made so many timed putts this week, which proves that strong play on the greens is extremely important at the major championships.

Harman took first place in strokes gained: putting, awarding nearly 12 shots on the field with his fairway. He missed just one putt inside ten feet all week and didn’t three-putt once.

The left hand was dominant all in all a great week with his putter, as Justin Ray of The Athletic said:

On the back nine, Harman continued to play flawlessly, save for a brief slip at the par-3 13th.

He missed a par-putt by seven feet, but again, Harman bounced back with consecutive birdies at the par-4 14th and par-5 15th.

By this point, there was only one thing left for Harman to do: try to stay as dry as possible on the walk to the Claret Jug.

His performance at Royal Liverpool this week will go down as one of the greatest in recent championship history.

Some of the best players in the world, such as Rahm and McIlroy, were respectively affected by the winds blowing in from the Irish Sea and the weather that took its toll on the iconic Royal Liverpool layout.

Harman was not, which is why he stands tall as the 2023 Champion Golfer of the Year.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough as well.

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