The 151st British Open opened Saturday with a leaderboard rife with golf’s big stars. The morning wave gave even more excitement when betting favorite Jon Rahm posted a 63 - not only the competitive course record but also good to jump 70-odd players and grab solo 2nd place.
Rory McIlroy pumped up the fans with early afternoon fireworks. Jason Day continued his resurgence and pushed his way up the rankings. 2022 runner-up Cameron Young displayed his power and smarts on links courses to put pressure on the leaders.
And after all that, a little lefty still led them. That’s right, Brian Harman took his SEGA-born and Athens-honed golf game far from home and kept the Open lead after 54 holes.
The unknown-to-most Harman showed he has golf cred. Starting 66-65, he began Saturday 5 shots clear of local boy and crowd favorite Tommy Fleetwood. A lip out on 1 cost him a shot, as did another bogey on 4. But he rebounded with a birdie soon after, and played a very respectable back side to finish with 69 strokes and a 3 day total of 12 under par.
That was good enough to maintain his 5 shot buffer, but with a slightly different contingent behind him. While Rahm’s Rahm-like 63 gave him 2nd place in the clubhouse, he was tied periodically by Day, Fleetwood, and eventually surpassed by Cameron Young (-7 to par). Rahm is alone in 3rd at -6, and a host of others at 5 under including Fleetwood, Day, Viktor Hovland, and fellow former Bulldog Sepp Straka.
Harman and Young will start the final 18 holes Sunday at 2:15 pm GMT, which is 9:15 am for us east coasters stateside.
There are many things in Brian Harman’s favor. He’s leading the field in Strokes Gained Putting, and is 44-44 from inside 10 feet (siiiick). He has a 5 shot lead. He’s finished no worse than 12th his last 3 tourneys. He has the most top 10 finishes on Tour since 2017 without a win. He’s due.
In the last 40 years, someone has taken a lead of 5 shots of greater into the final round of a major 12 times. That has resulted in a victory 10 times - the exceptions being Jean Van de Velde and Greg Norman (side note: witnessed that one in person. Suck it, 3LG).
Brian Harman doesn’t need Aaron Murray to be a little taller, or the refs to put in their contacts, or even need some opposing WRs to get pulled from the game due to injury. He just needs to play his game. If he does that, he can change his career, live up to his amateur and college hype ( deep dive on that maybe?), and get sideline passes for life on Dooley Field. No matter what, boy done good. And as always,