Harman Knocks 151st Open Off-Kilter
22 Jul,2023

By Tim Liotta


Harman Knocks 151st Open Off-Kilter

PGA Tour veteran Brian Harman sucked the air out of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on Friday. The experts didn't know what to say, could not create any drama around this 12-year pro who has played 339 events and won just twice. 

Harman is 10-under-par and has a five-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood (-5), with Sepp Straka (-4) another shot back, after two days at Royal Liverpool that have seen the top 5 players in the world post a combined +4 score. 


Harman held the 36- and 54-hole lead at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and went on to shoot a final-round, even-par 72 to finish four shot behind Brooks Koepka, who won his first major championship, and first of four over the next two years. 

The left-handed swingin Harman won the 2014 John Deere, and drained a 28-foot putt on the final hole to beat Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez by a shot in the Charles Schwab Challenge by a shot. 


With 50 career top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, Harman has the distinction of having the most (29) of any player since the 2017-18 season, but yet no victories. 

"I think about it a lot, obviously," said Harman. "I'm around the lead a bunch. It's been hard to stay patient. I felt that after I won the tournament and had the really good chance at the U.S. Open in 2017 that I would probably pop a few more off, and it just hasn't happened. I've been right there, and it just hasn't happened.

"I don't know. I don't know why it hasn't happened, but I'm not going to quit. I'm going to stick with it and just keep after it, and hopefully it'll pop one day."

The 36-year-old Georgia native who won the 2003 U.S. Junior Amateur at the age of 16 posted a pair of runner-up finishes last fall, and added a T2 at the Travelers Championship in June. 

The 5-foot-7 lefty posted 11 consecutive rounds of 68 or better, and was sitting third after three rounds at the Scottish Open last week before struggling to a four-over-par 74 final round for a T12 finish.

"Yeah, had a bad Sunday. Was in contention all week and just couldn't make any putts on Sunday," Harman said. "Was happy to use the Scottish to really get used to the conditions, and boy, congratulations to Scotland; they have the worst weather on the planet. They win. They win."

Harman led the Open field on Friday in Strokes Gained: Putting (+4.27).


Jason Day (-3)

Jordan Spieth (-2)

Cameron Young (-2)

Rory McIlroy (-1)

Viktor Hovland (E)

Jon Rahm (+2)

Cameron Smith (+2)

Xander Schauffele (+2)

Scottie Scheffler (+3)

Rickie Fowler (+3)


Keegan Bradley (+4)

Collin Morikawa (+4)

Tony Finau (+6)

Justin Rose (+6)

Shane Lowry (+7)

Phil Mickelson (+9)

Justin Thomas (+11)


Spells of light to moderate rain with overcast skies, though there will likely be some short, drier interludes through the day. Rain may turn more persistent and heavier at times. High expected 64 degrees, low 61.


After a first round filled with complaints about the pot bunkers being rakes to flat bottoms, which encouraged balls to settle up against walls, the R&A instructed the grounds crew to change the way they raked the bunkers. 

"We would like to advise you of an adjustment we have made to the way the bunkers are raked overnight," the R&A said in a statement to the media. "Yesterday afternoon the bunkers dried out more than we have seen in recent weeks and that led to more balls running straight up against the face than we would normally expect. 

"We have therefore raked all of the bunkers slightly differently to take the sand up one revet on the face of the bunkers.”

Transforming the floor of the bunkers from flat to a shallow bowl which encouraged balls to settle in the middle of the bunker rather than next to the walls. 

"I think it was a good move. I think the rain will make a big difference tomorrow," said Jordan Spieth. "I think it'll make it more playable. Balls will bounce off and move more towards the middle ever so slightly and you'll be able to get more club on the ball.


The re-modeled par-3, 17th hole played 132 yards on Friday, and Australia's Travis Smyth, playing in his first Open Championship, recorded the Little Eye's first hole-in-one. 

After posting a double-bogey on the hole the day before, Smyth, who made the field with a third-place finish in the World City Championship in Hong Kong, part of the Open Qualifying Series, in March, guided a "chippy" 9-iron one bounce into the cup. 

"It was amazing. A bittersweet actually," Smyth said. "I had a shock of the day before, made double bogey, and I was just really happy I hit a good shot because I was just so disappointed from the day before. Yeah, huge surprise that it went in the hole.

"It was just the perfect distance, perfect wind and the club. Everything just kind of came together, and it was a moment I'll never forget.


Rory McIlroy led the field in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, but managed to hit only 10 of 18 greens on Thursday. seemed to spend his day in the rough. He ranked 36th in the field with 88 feet, 6 inches of putts made, but made nothing longer than 13 feet, 9 inches. 

However, his driver and putter let him down the easy par-5 15th, as he drove it 368 yards into a pot bunker on the left side of the fairway. He chopped out sideways, then hit his third shot to the rough short of the green. After chipping to inside five feet, McIlroy missed the putt for a bogey. 

"I got off to a great start," said McIlroy. "Was a couple under through 9, and then gave those shots away on two of the sort of easier holes on the course, 11 and 15. But it was nice to at least get one of them back on 18 there.

"Yeah, it played tough. It played really, really tough. 10-under par is unbelievably impressive out there. We'll see what the weekend holds. But after two days I'm actually pretty happy with my two days' work."


The 22-year-old South African who burst onto the Open Championship scene on Thursday with a first-round, 5-under-par 66 for a share of the lead followed up those heroics with a back-to-earth 8-over-par 79 in Friday's second round. 

The 6-foot-8 amateur fell  from T1 to T62 to make the cut on the number. 

Lamprecht's driver was the story in round two, in which Lamprecht made eight bogeys without a birdie on the care, as his Strokes Gained: Off the Tee was -4.89, which ranked last in the field of 156. 

What does that look like on the course? Here are the official Descriptions of the destinations Lamprecht's tee shots (par-3s excluded) wound up in round two: to Rough, to Native Area, to Other, to Bushes, to Rough, to Bushes, to Rough, to Rough, to Native Area, to Fairway Bunker, to fairway, to rough, to fairway, to rough. 



Cameron Smith, the Open Championship defending champion, stood in the middle of the fairway of Liverpool's finishing hole at +4 for the championship, one shot on the wrong side of the cut. 

Smith, who a year ago chased down Rory McIlroy with one of the best final rounds in Open Championship history, hit a 6-iron from 232 yards to 16 inches from the hole and made eagle to advance to the weekend at 2-under-par. 

"Yeah, it was a good shot. I hit plenty of good shots today that didn't get kind of that reward, so it was nice to finish off like that," said Smith. "I think given the circumstance, as well, probably an even better shot."

Despite being 12T shots back of the leader, Smith is still plotting how he can get back into contention. 

"Honestly, the last couple of days, for sure there's been some squirrelly shots, but I think the scorecard is a long way off how the game feels," he said. "It's been a frustrating couple of days. 

"Hopefully the weekend -- I know the weather looks not so good, so hopefully the weekend I can grind it out and get back under par and just kind of see what happens.

"I think being 12 back with two rounds to go is a big ask, but you never know."


The downward spiral of former Number One Justin Thomas continued here at Royal Liverpool. The two-time major champion followed up a missed cut at the U.S. Open with a missed cut at the Open Championship. He posted a second-round 11-over-par 81 at LACC, then opened with an 11-over-par 82 at Royal Liverpool.

The 30-year-old Thomas has missed the cut in four of his last six events, and has dropped to 75th in the FedEx Cup standings, with the top 70 qualifying for the playoffs. 

"We're working hard, we're trying as hard as we can," said Thomas, who has decided to add next week's 3M Open to his schedule in an attempt to improve his FedEx Cup Standing position. 

"There's nobody that shot 82 that hit the quality I hit yesterday. I mean it doesn't make sense. I'll hit shots like I'm the Number One player in the world, and then I'll make a nine on my last hole of my tournament. 

"I don't know if it's a focus thing or I'm just putting too much pressure on myself, I don't know what it is. When I figure it out I'll be better for it."