Harman strolls to Open title at Royal Liverpool

-13 B Harman (US); -7 T Kim (Kor), S Straka (Aut), J Day (Aus), J Rahm (Spa); -6 E Grillo (Arg), R McIlroy (NI)
Selected others: -4 M Jordan (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng); -2 L Canter (Eng), A Fitzpatrick (Eng), T Hatton (Eng); E S Scheffler (US); +1 C Smith (Aus); +4 M Stewart (Sco)
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Brian Harman overcame an early wobble to stroll serenely to his first major title with a six-shot victory at the 151st Open Championship in Hoylake.

A one-under 70 proved more than enough for the American, who finished on 13 under at a rain-soaked Royal Liverpool.

World number three Jon Rahm finished joint second on seven under with Sepp Straka, Tom Kim and Jason Day.

Rory McIlroy ended six under, while Matthew Jordan and Tommy Fleetwood were England’s best, tied on four under.

It has been a fairytale week for Jordan, who was on the Royal Liverpool chipping green at the age of three and became a member aged seven.

The R&A gave him the honour of hitting the opening tee shot on Thursday and his one-under-par final round on Sunday lifted him into the top 10 and qualifies him for next year’s Open at Royal Troon in Ayrshire.

It has also been a fairytale week for Harman. The 36-year-old, ranked 26th in the world, becomes just the third left-hander to win the Claret Jug – emulating Bob Charles in 1963 and Phil Mickelson in 2013.

The victory is just the third in his career, and first since 2017.

And he did it by plotting his way round the links. He only went in two bunkers all week and holed 59 out of 60 putts from inside 10 feet and had no three putts – statistics that make champions.

“This golf course was a real test, it was set up so great – even with the weather. The greens were perfect, the golf course was excellent,” said Harman, who pledged to drink a “couple of pints” from the Claret Jug.

“I couldn’t be happier to be the champion. To all the fans, all the nice words, and all the fans back home tooting me on I appreciate it so much. Thank you.”

Harman’s lead never dropped below three despite bogeys on the second and fifth holes, the latter coming after he drove his ball into a gorse bush.

At that point Rahm was his closest challenger, three back on seven under.

But Harman responded magnificently with successive birdies on the sixth and seventh holes, while world number three Rahm stumbled with a bogey on the ninth.

But for most of the day, Harman was out of sight. Those behind were jousting for second.

Straka birdied the 16th to get to eight under, the lowest of any of those challenging, but he bogeyed the last to post a 69 and join South Korean Kim, who had four birdies and an eagle in a four-under 67, the joint lowest round of the day.

‘I can’t be too frustrated’

McIlroy had three successive birdies from the third to get to joint second on six under, but a bogey on the 10th deflated both the Northern Irishman and his thousands of followers, who were huddled under umbrellas as the rain lashed down all afternoon on the Wirral peninsula.

“It was a solid performance,” said the world number two. “I improved on my score every day and felt like I putted better.

“I got off to a really good start but it’s just hard to keep that going – as you can see from the leaderboard no-one was going low.

“Most times I tee it up, I’m right there. I can’t sit here and be too frustrated,” added the winner of last week’s Scottish Open.

McIlroy closed with a 68 to record a 20th top-10 finish in a major since winning when The Open last visited Royal Liverpool in 2014.

Only 10 players have won majors with more time elapsed between them than the eight years and 347 days from McIlroy’s 2014 US PGA win to this Sunday at Hoylake.

Julius Boros holds the record with 11 years and nine days between his US Open wins in 1952 and 1963.

More to follow.

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