Brian Harman was a runaway winner of The 151st Open, producing a magnificent performance at Royal Liverpool to become the Champion Golfer of the Year.
Just like Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush four years earlier, Harman triumphed by six shots – a margin that demonstrated how brilliantly he handled the tests posed by the Hoylake links and a variety of different weather conditions.
We look back on how Harman claimed the Claret Jug, together with the other highlights from a memorable week.
LAMPRECHT AND FLEETWOOD GRAB THE HEADLINES
Just four weeks on from winning The Amateur Championship at Hillside, the giant figure of Christo Lamprecht certainly made a big impression on The 151st Open as he claimed a share of the opening-day lead.
Playing alongside his compatriot and mentor, 2010 Champion Golfer Louis Oosthuizen, the Georgia Tech student began his week with a five-under 66 – highlighted by a delightful pitch-in for birdie at the 14th.
“I'd probably say the first tee shot was the only bit of nerves I had all day,” said the 22-year-old. “I just kind of walked off the first tee box after hitting my snap hook drive, and my caddie just told me, listen, you're playing The Open as an amateur; no need to stress. We kind of had fun from there.”
Lamprecht was duly joined on five-under by Tommy Fleetwood, a player boasting huge support not far from his home town of Southport, and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, with Harman, Adrian Otaegui and Antoine Rozner just one shot back.
One of the storylines of the day was provided by Royal Liverpool member Matthew Jordan, who received a rapturous reception upon hitting the Championship’s opening tee shot and impressed thereafter on his way to a two-under 69.
Twenty-nine players broke par on a day of relatively benign conditions, but stiffer tests lay ahead.
-5 Tommy Fleetwood, Emiliano Grillo, Christo Lamprecht (a)
-4 Brian Harman, Adrian Otaegui, Antoine Rozner
-3 Stewart Cink, Wyndham Clark, Max Homa, Alex Noren, Shubhankar Sharma, Michael Stewart
HARMAN SURGES CLEAR
If day one’s congested leaderboard had offered few clues as to the identity of the next Champion Golfer, a giant hint came on Friday as Harman dramatically seized control of proceedings.
Although the skies remained clear and wind speeds moderate, scoring proved trickier and many of the leaders from the opening round were unable to maintain their momentum.
Harman, however, was simply magnificent. Four birdies in succession from the second hole lifted the 36-year-old clear of the field, before he rounded off his round in sensational style with an eagle at the 18th.
His six-under 65 was the best score of the day by two and gave him a five-shot advantage over nearest rival Fleetwood, who could only manage a battling 71.
The main question now concerned Harman’s ability to handle the pressure. Having been among Friday’s earlier starters, the man from Savannah, Georgia would have more than 24 hours to think about his lofty position before teeing off in round three.
“I’m just trying not to get too caught up in it,” said Harman. “It's just golf. I think when I held the 54-hole lead at the US Open (in 2017), I just probably thought about it too much.
“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.”
Lamprecht followed his opening 66 with a 79 but had the significant consolation of being the only amateur to make the cut on three-over, effectively sealing the Silver Medal.
Cameron Smith and Scottie Scheffler were in serious danger of missing the weekend, but the defending Champion finished with a magnificent eagle to be two-over and Scheffler produced a superb up-and-down for birdie from a greenside bunker to sneak inside the cut line at plus-three.
At two-under and one-under respectively, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy knew they would need something truly special to have a chance of regaining the Claret Jug.
The standout moment of the day came from Travis Smyth, who made history with the first hole-in-one at the new 17th hole in an Open.
-10 Brian Harman
-5 Tommy Fleetwood
-4 Sepp Straka
-3 Jason Day, Min Woo Lee, Shubhankar Sharma
-2 Emiliano Grillo, Adrian Otaegui, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young
RAHM MAKES HISTORY BUT HARMAN RETAINS CONTROL
Significant overnight rain made for a softer links on Saturday and Jon Rahm took full advantage.
Having been three-over through 18 holes and just one shot better off at the halfway stage of the Championship, the Masters champion charged into contention with an eight-under 63 – the best score by two in an Open at Hoylake.
Seven of Rahm’s eight birdies came in his final 10 holes as he applied significant pressure to Harman ahead of the leader beginning his penultimate round.
When Harman then began shakily, dropping shots at the first and fourth, the Championship had briefly taken on an entirely different complexion.
Yet Harman produced the perfect response, picking up four shots over the next nine holes to regain a position of dominance at the top of the leaderboard.
A sixth successive round in the 60s at The Open meant Harman ended the day as he started it, leading by five strokes.
Cameron Young was now his nearest challenger after a 66, with Rahm a further shot back in third place ahead of five players at five-under.
Among those was Fleetwood, whose hopes of securing an immensely popular triumph had been dented, but not extinguished, by back-to-back level-par 71s.
Alex Fitzpatrick produced the second-lowest score of day three, a 65, to climb into the top 10 on his major debut and ahead of his elder brother, 2022 US Open champion Matt.
-12 Brian Harman
-7 Cameron Young
-6 Jon Rahm
-5 Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Antoine Rozner, Sepp Straka
-4 Alex Fitzpatrick, Shubhankar Sharma
HARMAN HOLDS FIRM IN BATTLE AGAINST THE ELEMENTS
Saturday’s weather had proven better than forecasted, but Sunday brought a new challenge as heavy rain poured down on Hoylake throughout the day.
The precipitation was simply relentless and provided an additional complication for Harman as he looked to convert the opportunity of a lifetime.
The long-time leader appeared in serious danger of ceding his commanding position when he again carded two early bogeys, this time at the second and fifth.
Yet just as he had done 24 hours earlier, Harman once again showed immense character to bounce back immediately. Successive birdies at the sixth and seventh got the left-hander back on track and, in truth, his lead was never seriously threatened thereafter.
There was a glimmer of hope for the chasing pack when Harman dropped his third shot of the day at the 13th, but what followed underlined his status as the week’s outstanding player.
Harman promptly birdied the 14th and 15th, earning a sizeable cushion that he retained with ease over Royal Liverpool’s challenging final holes.
A round of 70 was completed with a classy up-and-down from a greenside bunker on 18 as Harman earned the title of Champion Golfer of the Year with a 13-under aggregate of 271.
Rahm, Jason Day, Sepp Straka and Tom Kim all shared second place on seven-under, the latter defying an ankle injury suffered on Thursday to post a 67 – the joint-best score of a gruelling day that sternly tested the concentration of the competitors.
Eight different nationalities were represented in the final top nine, while local hero Jordan closed with a 70 to tie for 10th place and share the honour of leading Englishman with Fleetwood.
-13 Brian Harman
-7 Jason Day, Tom Kim, Jon Rahm, Sepp Straka
-6 Emiliano Grillo, Rory McIlroy
-5 Shubhankar Sharma, Cameron Young
-4 Tommy Fleetwood, Max Homa, Matthew Jordan