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paul casey the open

Brian Harman wins The Open and there is no one more deserving

It was the complete performance and a dogged final round display that stuck it to his detractors. The Claret Jug is a just reward

 

Was he everybody’s choice – what does it matter? No one can say Brian Harman isn’t the deserving Champion Golfer of the Year.

As the rain turned the spectator Park & Rides around Royal Liverpool into a swamp – the American described conditions at Hoylake as “Armageddon” – his controlled display washed away his challengers and put the seal on a 151st Open he completely dominated.

The margin was six at the finish – an incredible display from a player who had not won for six years.

He was superior in every aspect, plotting his way through the challenges, avoiding those notorious bunkers for the most part, and wielding his unusually-shaped putter like a magician waves a wand.

Not a single three-putt in 72 holes. He gained more than 11.5 strokes on the rest of the field with the flat stick. He missed nothing inside five feet and only one putt from 10.

It would have required something incredible, seen just twice before in the history of The Open, for him to have slipped up.

Though he began his final journey with a five-shot advantage, conditions were as challenging as they had been all week. Rory McIlroy briefly charged, and Harman bogeyed the second and fifth to give the chasing pack a glimmer.

But that’s all it was. Birdies at successive holes shut the door on those behind. He was never under threat again. Nor did he look so, either. When birdies came at 14 and 15 he was entering Tiger Woods territory.

He was not searching for records, though. The Claret Jug was clearly enough.

brian harman wins the open

Brian Harman wins The Open in dominant fashion

“I’ve always had a self-belief that I could do something like this,” he added. “It’s just when it takes so much time it’s hard not to let your mind falter, like ‘maybe I’m not winning again’.

“I’m 36 years old. The game is getting younger. All these young guys coming out, hit it a mile, and they’re all ready to win. When is it going to be my turn again?

“It’s been hard to deal with. I think someone mentioned that I’ve had more top 10s than anyone since 2017, so that’s a lot of times where you get done and you’re ‘dammit, man, I had that one’. It just didn’t happen for whatever reason.

“To come out and put a performance like that together, start to finish, I just had a lot of control. I don’t know why this week, but I’m very thankful that it was this week.”

Here’s a tip for any European team fan if Brian Harman makes the Ryder Cup team. Don’t poke him. Resilience, the type he had to show against a partisan crowd with a clear home favourite, appears to egg him on.

“It helped snap me back into, ‘I’m good enough to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m going to go through my process, and the next shot is going to be good’.

“I figured at some point that I was going to hit bad shots. Just with the weather and the scenario, you’re going to hit bad shots. I knew that the way I responded to that would determine whether I’d be sitting here or not.”

After he’s done drinking Guinness out of golf’s most famous trophy, there will come the realisation that he’ll be returning to The Open for the next quarter of a century.

He said: “I look forward to coming back for a really long time. Growing up in Georgia, obviously being a huge fan of golf, I’ve watched The Open Championship. We would wake up early and watch it.

“I never knew how much I’d appreciate it until the first time I came I played in 2014. I just didn’t know what to expect. You grow up in Georgia, it’s all the Masters. It’s proximity.

“But I came here and I was, ‘wow, man, this is unbelievable’. The fans are incredible. Everyone understands golf over here. It was just a delight to play. Man, I’m stoked. Stoked to come back here.”

Brian Harman wins The Open. No one can have any arguments.

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NOW READ: Everything you need to know about the 15st Open

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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