Brian Harman takes the lead with the Open Championship in hand


July 22, 2023 | 22:16

HOYLAKE, England — The 151st British Open wasn’t a tournament.

So it was.

And then it wasn’t again.

As Saturday began, it appeared that the final score of the Open was no longer in the balance.

Brian Harman was sleeping on a five-shot 36-hole lead, at 10-under, and appeared to be petering out.

Then came Spaniard Jon Rahm, with an early tee time and nothing to lose, charging like one of the bulls of Pamplona, ​​with an 8-under 63 to get to 6-under.

Other former major championship winners, such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, initially followed suit, making strides up the leaderboard before Harman started his third round.

Then Harman teed off at 3:30 p.m. local time and promptly birdied the first hole from the middle of the fairway to drop to 9-under, three ahead of Rahm.

He then bogeyed No. 4 to drop to 8-under, his lead whittled down to just two shots.

Suddenly, late in the afternoon at Royal Liverpool, it seemed as if a tournament was leaking out and Sunday drama was on the way.

Until there wasn’t.

Brian Harman of the United States tees off on the 16th hole on day three of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
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The prosperous rounds of Day, Spieth, McIlroy and other pretenders were halted and Harman found his feet, with birdies on Nos. 5 and 9, to get back to 10-under.

He later added birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 on the back nine and finished with a 2-under 69 to get to 12-under and keep his lead exactly where it had been at the start of the day – five shots.

Cameron Young is tied for second at 7-under after shooting 66.

Rahm is six shots back at 6-under and several players, including Day, Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood, are seven shots back at 5-under.

The Claret pitcher, as it was at the start of the third round, is Harman’s win or lose.

What he does on Sunday during the final round will dictate everything.

“The tournament lasts four days, [but] it’s clearly in Brian’s hands,” Fleetwood said.

Brian Harman putst on the 13th green during day three of the British Open Golf Championships.

“Obviously, Brian is playing great, [so] someone has to go out and score to catch him,” Min Woo Lee said.

Harman, who has been adamant about not getting ahead of himself, admitted it would be “foolish not to imagine” holding the claret jug on Sunday night.

“I’ve been thinking about winning majors my whole life,” he said. “That’s the whole reason I work as hard as I do and why I practice as much as I do and why I sacrifice as much as I do.

“Tomorrow, if I’m going to succeed, it’s going to be about golf. It’s going to be execution and just staying in the moment.”

Harman, as is well documented, loves to hunt.

On Sunday, he’s hunting the biggest game he’s ever caught on a golf course, the shiny claret jug.

Brian Harman of the United States and England’s Tommy Fleetwood shake hands on the 18th green after completing their third round.

“My father used to take me hunting, [and] we always made it a point that I knew how to skin a deer by the time I was 8 years old,” Harman recalled. “It was all part of it, start to finish. I enjoy it from start to finish. Back home at the hunting lodge that I own, we plant food for the animals.

“We have prescribed fire for the animals. Everything we do is for the wildlife, and then when we harvest it, we respect it and look after it and feed it to our families.”

Harman said he loves practicing his golf because it helps him “lose track of time,” adding, “That’s how I know I’m really enjoying it.”

Hunting does the same for him.

“The patience and the strategy for sure,” he said. “When I go turkey hunting, I can spend the whole day out there. We’ve been on some really cool elk hunts out in Colorado, really tough hunting, tons of elevation, and then after we harvest the animal, we have to pack it out. You’re talking about six to eight hours packing this thing up and down these mountains.

“It’s just something I really enjoy doing. I enjoy putting meat in the freezer.”

On Sunday, he wants the oldest, most famous trophy in golf to put on his mantel back home in Georgia.

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