Harman Overcomes Shaky Start, Leads by 5 at 151st Open
22 Jul,2023

By Tim Liotta


Harman Overcomes Shaky Start, Leads by 5 at 151st Open

Brian Harman survived a shaky start Saturday, and once again separated himself from the field with a five-shot lead over Cameron Young going into the final round of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

The story of the day Saturday was Jon Rahm playing his way back into the championship. Rahm, who flirted with the cut line at the end of Friday's round, posted an 8-under-par 63, the lowest score ever by two shots in an Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. 

Harman, a 12-year PGA Tour vet who had only one bogey over the first two rounds bogeyed two of the first four holes on Saturday, reducing a five-shot, overnight, 36-hole lead down to two shots.

Harman got back to what got him to the lead, making four birdies without a single bogey the rest of the way, while most of his competitors, other than Young and Jon Rahm, were unable to get anything going.

"It would have been really easy to let the wheels start spinning and really kind of let it get out of control," Harman said, "but I just kind of doubled down on my routine and knew I was hitting it well, even though I hadn't hit any good shots yet.

"Staying patient out there is paramount. Sometimes it's a lot harder than others. But really proud of the way that I hung in there."


In the second round, Jon's proximity to the hole on shots less than 125yds was 32 feet, 1 inch, and from between 125-175 yards was 50 feet, 4 inches. 

In round 3, those numbers were: less than 125 yards was 21 feet 4 inches, and from 125-175 yards was 22 feet, 1 inch.

And he wasn't in a single pot bunker on Saturday. 

And he made 16 of the 19 putts he had inside 20 feet. 

Those kind of numbers add up to an 8-under-par 63, the lowest score ever at Royal Liverpool in an Open Championship by two shots.

"I was playing well, making good swings out there in the first two rounds. I never really carried the momentum I needed, missed a couple of key putts thoughout the first 36 holes. I didn't really give myself the best chance to get into contention early, but today was the complete opposite, right? 

"Felt really good with the swing, and got every break I needed, and made the putts I needed to make, virtually everything I needed to shoot a round this low.

Rahm's six birdies on the closing nine was capped with an 11-foot, 3-inch birdie putt on the finishing hole. 

"I had to call (his caddy) Adam (Hayes) in on this one. I wasn't sure of the read but he saw the same thing that I did originally, and when we both agree I know we have it properly read that gave me a lot of confidence," Rahm said. 


After playing over par the first two days (73.25 on Thursday, 73.45 on Friday, Royal Liverpool soaked up an early rain, then the winds died, enabling 55 of 76 players post scores of par or better on Saturday. 

"It's a little softer because of the rain we had this morning," said Viktor Hovland. "The wind direction seemed to switch. Early on in the round it was the complete opposite as its been the first couple of days, then it switched back I think on my 10th hole.

"But it really isn't blowing that much so when it's a little softer that's when you can be more aggressive and make more birdies. 


Young ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+3.45) for Saturday's third round, and ranks first in Greens In Regulation through the first three rounds. 

"My iron play has been great. I've just hit a lot of greens and given myself plenty of chances," Young said after the round. "Honestly, I've putted really nicely, too. There was a couple short misses in there that are really annoying, but I think the greens are just a little tricky in places.

In his three 2023 major-championship starts, Young has finished T7 at the Masters, missed the cut at the PGA, and finished T32 at the U.S. Open. 

"I played really well at the U.S. Open and kind of missed everything for a couple of days and then made three doubles in a row on Sunday," Young said before the John Deere two weeks ago. "So you look and say, oh, well, he shot, whatever, 2-over or 3-over for the tournament, but I was in 11th with seven holes to go, and I wasn't going to win, but I could have finished fourth. 

"If it goes the other -- I hit one good shot and make a putt, all of a sudden I'm in 5th or 6th place. You are, like, man, you're having a great year because you have a 7th and a 5th in majors."

Starting his 2023 U.S. Open on Thursday at LACC on the 10th hole, Young made a double-bogey on 13, and bogeys on 14 and 17 to fall back to four-over-par eight holes into the tournament. By the time he reached the 10th hole on Sunday he had climbed up up the leaderboard all the way to two-under-par before double bogeys at 11, 12 and 13. 

"That stretch at the U.S. Open I worked really, really hard to get back to having a chance to have what you would call a good finish, I guess. I think I shot maybe 2-over on Thursday and got myself all the way back to 3-under for the tournament, which doesn't sound like a lot, but at a U.S. Open, you guys know how hard that is to do.

"Very frustrating for it to go -- it went away in 25 minutes. It was three days of grinding so hard and playing some really good golf, and literally between the 11th tee and the 13th tee it all went away, which is kind of the nature of that tournament a little bit."


The second-lowest score of the day belonged to Alex Fitzpatrick, the younger brother of 2022 U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick posted a 6-under-par 65 on seven birdies against one bogey to move to T9 after making the cut on the number in his Open and major championship debut.     

"Super special round," Alex said. "I'm not familiar with this environment and the amount of people out here, but me and my caddie had a great time out there and things went our way, which was super cool.

"Yeah, just a bit lost for words really."

The 24-year-old younger Fitzpatrick, ranked 561 in the world and made it into the Open Championship field through Final Qualifying. He has been playing on the European Challenger Tour. He was a quarterfinalist in the 2018 U.S. Amateur. 

His 28-year-old older brother Matt won the RBC Heritage in April for his second PGA Tour event, and his currently ranked #9 in the world. Matt Fitzpatrick finished the third round T17 at 2-under-par, one shot behind Alex.