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The 151st Open

Brian Harman


Perfect putting helps left-hander pull clear in The 151st Open

Brian Harman putting

Cameron Smith created the template at St Andrews and Brian Harman might just follow his lead in putting his way to the Claret Jug. 

On a morning where the conditions tested everybody, Harman was simply flawless at Royal Liverpool on his way to signing a 65, enough for a five-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood ahead of his second round. 

There is still a long way to go to decide the Champion Golfer at The 151st Open, but if he maintains this form, Harman will take some catching. 

It was Smith’s sensational short game that proved the difference as he held off the challenge of Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy on his way to victory at the Old Course 12 months ago. 

And that has proved the foundation of Harman’s charge this time around – Friday’s 65 making it five consecutive rounds in the 60s at the Open. 

With four consecutive birdies from the 2nd hole to the 5th, Harman quickly seized control of the leaderboard, before closing out a six-under-par round with an eagle at the last. 

He has led at a major before, notably after 54 holes at the US Open in 2017, only to be overhauled by Brooks Koepka. 

But with his last win coming six years ago at the Wells Fargo Championship, Harman is only too aware of the fickle nature of the sport. 

He said: “I’m just trying not to get too caught up in it. It's just golf. I think when I held the 54-hole lead at the US Open, I just probably thought about it too much. 

“I just didn't focus on getting sleep and eating right. So that would be my focus this weekend. 

“I have a very active mind. It's hard for me - I've always struggled with trying to predict the future and trying to forecast what's going to happen. I've just tried to get really comfortable just not knowing.” 

It has been a remarkable turnaround for Harman on links golf, finishing T26 on his Open debut at Royal Liverpool nine years ago before missing four cuts on the spin at the Championship. 

That changed in 2021, and then a year ago he managed just a second top-10 finish at a major, T6 as Smith putted his way to victory. 

What was most impressive about Harman’s round was just how clinical he was. He took almost every chance that came his way, with just 23 putts across his entire round – after 26 on Thursday. His birdie run started with a 19-foot putt on 2, with a 25-footer and then a 17-footer at 3 and 4. 

The pick of the shots during that run was on the 5th where he looked in trouble, only to chip from the rough against the flag, leaving a gimme, to make it four birdies on the spin. 

As if to prove it was no fluke, Harman remained bogey-free on 12 when he chipped in from 14 yards for an unlikely par. 

By the time he had sunk an eagle from 14 feet on the last, completing the day’s first bogey-free round and only the third all tournament, Harman was in dreamland. 

He added: “I've had a hot putter the last couple days so I'll try to ride it through the weekend. (There are) 36 holes to go, so I'll try to rest up and get ready. 

“I'd say it was nice to finally turn the corner last year to where - this is probably my seventh or eighth Open Championship. Before last year I had never really even been anywhere close to in contention or even doing halfway decent.” 

Harman is certainly in contention now. The question is, can he finally break that losing streak? 

“I don't know why it hasn't happened, but I'm not going to quit,” he vowed.  

“I'm going to stick with it and just keep after it, and hopefully it'll pop one day.” 

One day, maybe Sunday? 

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