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The 151st Open

How it stands


Harman takes big lead into the weekend at The 151st Open

Brian Harman after his round of 65 at The 151st Open

Brian Harman will take the joint-biggest lead through 36 holes at The Open for 89 years into the weekend after a sublime second round at Royal Liverpool to seize control of The 151st Open.

Sitting one shot off the leaders heading into the day, Harman proceeded to notch four consecutive birdies after a par at the first to move clear of the field.

An eagle at the last capped off a bogey-free 65, to take the left-handed American to 10-under-par, five strokes clear of Tommy Fleetwood.

In the five previous Opens at Royal Liverpool since World War II, only Roberto De Vicenzo did not lead at the halfway stage, and none were as far clear as Harman.

But the American has not tasted victory in six years, and has previous experience of leading at major, holding a one-stroke advantage at the US Open in 2017 before finishing tied second behind Brooks Koepka.

Fleetwood looks best-placed to challenge, but like everyone else bar Harman, he had his ups and downs on his way to a 71.

There was drama late on at the last as Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith hit birdie and eagle respectively to make the cut.

Harman putting into big lead

Reigning Champion Golfer Smith is widely regarded as the world’s best putter, but Harman can give him a run for his money, and certainly has done so far this week.

His work on the green was simply outstanding early, making tough putts time and again, before two brilliant chips, one at 5 to set up a birdie, and another straight in at 12 to save par.

Harman finished off with a magnificent eagle to complete one of just two bogey-free rounds, along with 2016 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson, and is now well-placed to become the third left-hander to lift the Claret Jug, after Bob Charles in 1963 and Phil Mickelson 50 years later.

Unsurprisingly though, Harman is not counting his chickens, particularly given how long he has waited to taste victory since claiming the Wells Fargo Championship in 2017.

He said: “I’m just trying not to get too caught up in it. It's just golf. I've probably - 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.”

Fleetwood lurking

If Harman does falter over the weekend, then Fleetwood is still the man poised to take advantage as he hung in with the support of the Royal Liverpool crowds.

Three bogeys were cancelled out by as many birdies in a 71 that leaves him in sole possession of second place and joining Harman in the final group on Saturday.

The 2017 Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth looked like he might join Fleetwood in second at one point, with three birdies in the first six holes, but his back nine saw him drop back to two-under where he had started the day.

That is one better than Rory McIlroy, whose birdie at the last should give him some momentum, even if he starts the weekend nine shots back from Harman.

Straka’s secret weapon

Austria’s Sepp Straka worked with new caddie Duane Bock for the first time at the John Deere Classic at the start of this month, shooting a 62 on Sunday on his way to victory.

After a stunning chip for birdie on 18 yesterday, Straka was at it again to finish his round four-under-par to sit third.

And while Harman will take some catching, another 62 on Sunday would certainly have Straka in contention.

Talking of his new caddie, he said: “So far, so good. He's a great caddie and very fortunate to have him on the bag.”

Elsewhere, Shubhankar Sharma celebrated his 27th birthday in style with a fine 71, enough to sit T4, where he was joined by a pair of Australians in Jason Day and Min Woo Lee, who shot 67 and 68 respectively.

Tommy Fleetwood escapes from a bunker at the sixth

Making the cut

In tricky conditions, the cut was set at three-over, with a host of big names battling to make it.

Overnight leader Christo Lamprecht, the South African amateur, found his second Open round rather trickier than his first, with eight bogeys on his way to a 79. But despite dropping a shot at the last, he did just enough to secure weekend golf, and as the only amateur to do so, he is set to claim the Silver Medal.

The other fairy tale from Thursday was Royal Liverpool member Matthew Jordan’s impressive 69 after hitting the very first tee shot.

He was never in danger of missing the cut as he continued to look comfortable in home conditions, finishing one-over for the day thanks in large part to a double bogey at 17, but one-under for the tournament.

Two-time Champion Golfer Padraig Harrington was another to finish the right side of the line, birdies on 12 and 16 enough to finish on three-over, with Brooks Koepka sneaking through despite a seven on the last.

It did not look as though world number one Scottie Scheffler would be joining them, but a sensational bunker shot on the last set him up for the birdie he needed to stay alive.

And reigning Champion Golfer Smith produced an even better shot with his approach on 18 for an eagle that also saw him sneak through on two-over. 

The best shot of the day belonged to Travis Smyth, however, who made history with the first-ever hole-in-one on the brand-new 17th. His ace at Little Eye was in stark contrast to Thursday's double bogey and was the perfect consolation as he missed the cut.

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