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The 151st Open

'A formidable contender'


Champions welcome Harman to exclusive club

Brian Harman sits on the bunker at the 18th with the Claret Jug

Brian Harman might have doubted his ability to win a major, but to so many of his peers it was always a case of when – not if.

The 36-year-old lapped the field in one of the most brilliant major performances seen this century, realising a lifelong dream at a drenched Royal Liverpool.

The winning margin was six shots, but in truth, it felt like more. Harman was the anomaly in what was otherwise an incredibly tight 151st Open.

Four players finished on seven-under-par, two on six-under, two on five-under and a further four on four-under. The Royal Liverpool anomaly was Harman, six shots clear of his nearest challengers after rounds of 67-65-69-70.

The fact it marked his first victory in six years, and the third of his career, was remarkable. The way he maintained his composure suggested here was a player who had dominated for years, even if his heart was pumping out of his ribcage.

For those on the circuit who know him best, it was not a surprise.

“I think you'll find one thing about Brian Harman, I mean this in the best possible way, I would suggest he has the perfect chip on his shoulder,” said Padraig Harrington, who was a year younger than Harman when he first became Champion Golfer of the Year.

“He's a great player but is ignored just because he doesn't fit the mould, doesn't look the part.

“I think that chip on the shoulder really drives him. I think he's a very determined, gritty person who wants to really prove himself because, as I said, for how he performs, he probably doesn't get the credit. That's the way it is.”

Few players know Harman better than Zach Johnson, his neighbour on St. Simons Island and, like Harrington, a man who knows what it takes to win the Claret Jug.

Their careers are similar, underrated, hard-working players who have scaled the greatest possible height in golf.

“What transpired this week, I would even say last week, and the last couple tournaments he's played in does not surprise me in the least,” he said.

“He is a very formidable competitor, number one. He is a very formidable competitor, number one.

“Number two, hey, what does Brian Harman do really well? Well, he does everything quite well. He's a very good driver of the golf ball and a very, very, very good putter.

“Then if everything else is good, then it can be pretty lethal. Our games are very similar except for the fact that he stands on the wrong side of the golf ball.

“He hits it a little further. He's gritty. He's got a great ensemble of coaches and a team. What I've seen - it's three days - but what I've seen so far in three days has not surprised me in the least.”

Winning a major is a life-changing experience, the realisation of a dream first held when he was a small boy. 

“I don't think it'll change that much for him,” said Rory McIlroy. “If I know Brian like I think I do, I don't think it's going to change him as a person.

“There might be a few more demands on his time, but apart from that, I think it'll be pretty much the same.”

Every other player will dread the thought. If Harman plays the same, there will be many more titles to come.

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