Brian Harman maintains a 5-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Harman, who is vying for his first major championship victory, holds a lead of 5 strokes over Cameron Young and 6 strokes over Masters champion Jon Rahm after carding a 2-under 69 in the third round.
Harman, who stands at 12 under after 54 holes, has a chance to become the third left-handed player to win a Claret Jug, following in the footsteps of Bob Charles (1963) and Phil Mickelson (2013). Harman expressed his optimism about winning majors, stating that it has been his lifelong dream and that his hard work, practice, and sacrifices have all been leading up to this moment. He emphasized the importance of staying focused and executing his game plan in order to achieve his goal.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Harman is only the 10th golfer in history to hold a lead of at least 5 shots after both the second and third rounds of a major championship. Remarkably, each of the previous nine golfers went on to win, with the most recent being Brooks Koepka at the 2019 PGA Championship. Harman is also only the third golfer to lead by 5 strokes or more in the Open Championship, with James Braid (1908) and Henry Cotton (1934) both securing victories after holding similar leads.
Although Harman has a comfortable lead, he will still have to contend with a strong field of competitors in the final round. Alongside Young and Rahm, players such as Viktor Hovland, Jason Day, Sepp Straka, and Tommy Fleetwood are all at 5 under and will be vying for a chance to catch up to Harman. Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, sits 9 shots behind Harman after carding a 2-under 69 in the third round.
Straka acknowledged Harman’s strong performance but also emphasized the need to focus on his own game and play to the best of his abilities. He acknowledged that a good day from Harman would make it difficult for others to catch up, but he remained hopeful and believed that staying true to his own game plan would give him a chance. Young, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, echoed similar sentiments and stated that he will approach the final round with the same strategy and see where it takes him.
Rahm, who won his second major at Augusta National Golf Club in April, made a strong comeback in the third round with a record-breaking 8-under 63. This marked the lowest round ever recorded in an Open Championship played at Royal Liverpool. Rahm started the day 12 shots behind Harman, but if he manages to erase the 6-stroke deficit in the final 18 holes, he will become only the second player to win a major after trailing by 12 shots or more through 36 holes. George Duncan achieved this feat by winning The Open in 1920 after being 13 shots behind after the second round. Rahm expressed his optimism and attributed his strong play to the hard work and preparations he has put in leading up to the tournament.
Harman encountered some early struggles in the third round, recording two bogeys in the first four holes. However, he managed to turn things around and avoid any further mistakes. He carded four birdies, including back-to-back ones at the 12th and 13th holes, to regain his 5-stroke lead. Harman credited his ability to stay patient and remain focused on his routine as key factors in his comeback.
For Harman, consistency has been key to his success. He has been hitting fairways, relying on his short game, and putting skills when necessary. He has hit 71% of fairways and has converted 16 of 19 scrambling opportunities when he missed the green. Harman leads the field in strokes gained: putting with an impressive 9.27 and has averaged the fewest putts per hole at 1.44. His ability to stay composed under pressure and make clutch putts has been instrumental in maintaining his lead.
As Harman heads into the final round, he remains focused on the task at hand and is determined to secure the biggest victory of his golfing career. The stage is set for an exciting and potentially historic finish at the Open Championship.