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The 151st Open

How it stands


Brian Harman takes a five-stroke lead into final day despite Rahm record

Brian Harman celebrates a fine third round

Brian Harman overcame a shaky start to take a commanding five-stroke lead into the final round of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool.

With two bogeys on the first four holes, it looked as though the left-hander might see his overnight lead evaporate on the front nine.

The mental challenge was only made tougher by seeing two-time major winner Jon Rahm set a Royal Liverpool record at an Open of 63, to surge back into contention.

However, just as it seemed that everything would tighten up, Harman rediscovered the form that allowed him to take control on Friday.

And while there is a long way to go before his name is engraved on the Claret Jug, only Rory McIlroy has ever led by more going into the final round at Hoylake, carrying a six-stroke lead to victory nine years ago.

Should Harman falter on the final Sunday, there is no shortage of contenders waiting in the wings, starting with last year’s runner-up Cameron Young. His 66 was almost flawless, a bogey on 7 the only blemish. That was the best round of the afternoon starters, who had to battle the worst of the conditions, and leaves Young on seven-under in second.

Even with more favourable weather, Rahm’s efforts were remarkable, producing his best-ever round of links golf and best at a major as he came back in 30 to go from T39 to third as he looks to complete the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

Hovering in T4 is a quintet who will have come away with mixed feelings from moving day. Viktor Hovland and Antoine Rozner shot 66 and 67 respectively to reach five-under, while Jason Day went out strongly before struggling to back it up on the back nine.

For Sepp Straka, a bogey on 18 was a disappointing end to what had been a promising round, while Tommy Fleetwood battled all the way round for 71.

Harman holds his nerve

There was a point when Brian Harman’s lead was back to two strokes that everything was on the table.

The weather conditions were deteriorating, the extra waggles before every stroke were on the rise and it seemed like the challenges of links golf might just get the better of the 36-year-old.

But the man from Savannah, Georgia, did not panic. Instead, he notched a birdie four on the 5th and used that as the springboard to seize control once more.

The putting has been his secret weapon all week but as the wet weather slowed the greens, it was his approach work that was key to a 69.

That is not to say his putter let him down, a 20-footer on 13 made it back-to-back birdies, while the testing par putt from 8.5 feet at the last will help him sleep easier.

Harman has led at a major going into the final day before, holding a one-stroke lead at the 2017 US Open, but this is a completely different ball game.

For a man who has not won in six years, this is the perfect opportunity to end that streak, and Saturday certainly showed he is up for the fight.

Rahm on a roll

Jon Rahm spent much of the first two days of The 151st Open trying and failing to hide his frustration at letting shots slip away on avoidable mistakes.

That sense of regret might return if it ends up costing him the Claret Jug, but Saturday was a day of celebration for the Spaniard, who put some early bad luck with the putter behind him to rewrite the record books.

No one had ever broken 65 at Royal Liverpool in an Open, but Rahm lowered that mark by two with some stunning golf.

From two-over, he had worked himself into second by the time he walked off 18 after his eighth birdie of the day, with only Cameron Young able to pass him of the afternoon starters.

“That's the best round I've played on a links golf course ever,” he said.

“It's my lowest round on a links course and it's an Open Championship, right? Also the lowest round shot on this course.

“The job today was to come out and give myself the best opportunity I could. Whenever you get a birdie, just thinking about one more. That's simply all you can do.”

Rahm was not the only man to excel in the morning, Alex Fitzpatrick matching the previous best on the course with a 65 to move to four-under, and two clear of his brother Matt in the sibling rivalry.

Young waiting in the wings

A year ago, Cameron Young eagled the last at St Andrews on his way to second place at The 150th Open, and it is the position he occupies with one round remaining 12 months on.

Thriving as the weather got worse, Young is once again pushing hard to become a Champion Golfer, with his ability to adapt to the conditions giving him the best possible chance.

He said: “Obviously playing links golf I think is different, and I think it's fun. I really enjoy this kind of golf, and I've had a good time playing this week.”

New name on the Claret Jug?

With three birdies through the first five holes, Rory McIlroy was on course to make a real charge after his Genesis Scottish Open success.

But from there, the 2014 Champion Golfer just could not make his putts, with a bogey on 12 leaving him three-under-par.

Jordan Spieth is a stroke further back, while a trio of Champion Golfers, Stewart Cink, Henrik Stenson and reigning Champion Cameron Smith are all on one-under, meaning that it would take a comeback of Paul Lawrie-proportions to prevent a new winner.

In fact, aside from Rahm and Jason Day, McIlroy is the best-placed of the major winners in the field.

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