Brian Harman has often faced criticism for overthinking. Even he has acknowledged this tendency in himself. This issue became apparent when, during the 2017 U.S. Open, he held a one-shot lead but couldn’t match Brooks Koepka’s performance that Sunday.
The 151st British Open presented a chance for Brian Harman to shine, despite not having won a tournament in the past six years. However, his drive on the par 5 fifth hole landed in a gorse bush, forcing him to take a penalty drop. Suddenly, the smooth path to victory became uncertain.
With a bogey, marking his second on that day, his five-shot lead was reduced to three. As the rain poured down, Brian Harman mind was likely in turmoil, especially with the formidable Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, the world’s second and third-ranked players respectively, making their move. Clearly, Brian Harman found himself in a troublesome situation.
Would Brian Harman follow in the footsteps of those who had major championships within their grasp only to falter in the crucial moments? Could he become another Jean van de Velde? The response was a categorical “no.”
Harman quickly bounced back from the bogey at the fifth hole by scoring birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, reigniting his momentum and confidence. As he continued to navigate the course, the players chasing from behind tried to make a push, but Brian Harman remained steady, foiling their attempts. By the time he reached the thirteenth hole, it seemed as if his name was already being engraved on the prestigious Claret Jug.
Ninety minutes later, the 36-year-old golfer from Savannah, Georgia, was proudly lifting the jug, crowned as the Champion Golfer of the Year. He secured a decisive six-stroke victory over the likes of Rahm, Tom Kim, Sepp Straka, and Jason Day.
Throughout the day, Brian Harman admitted that fleeting thoughts about winning crossed his mind, but he was determined not to let them distract him. He stated, “I made a pledge to myself that I wasn’t going to let any of that get into my head,” when asked when he first started to think about winning. So any time it came, I just thought of something else.”
Harman honestly confessed that it wasn’t until he reached the 18th green with the ball in play that the idea of winning truly entered his thoughts. Until that moment, he had skillfully kept his focus on the game, blocking out any premature notions of victory and maintaining his composure.
Every major tournament can be divided into two distinct phases: the Monday-to-Wednesday period, characterized by public relations battles, and the Thursday-to-Sunday stretch of intense golf competition. In the pre-LIV era, the initial three days leading up to a major would revolve around various topics such as the history of the course hosting the event, the introduction of new features at the venue, discussions about the latest pseudo-scandals affecting golf (like debates about hoodies or uniform-length clubs), and, of course, the prominent figure of Tiger Woods.
However, since early 2022, LIV has taken over the spotlight in the pre-tournament news cycles, dominating discussions about who’s participating and who’s not, along with the opinions surrounding golf’s existential upheaval.
Following the shocking PGA Tour-Saudi Public Investment Fund agreement announcement in early June, this year’s Open Championship became the second major tournament in the wake of this significant development. Consequently, the questions asked were less about the confusion surrounding golf’s trajectory and more focused on how the sport would progress and adapt from this point onward.
During his pre-tournament address on Wednesday, Martin Slumbers, the CEO of the R&A, which is equivalent to the USGA in England, offered a glimpse of golf’s new direction. He acknowledged that additional Saudi investment in golf is not merely a possibility but an inevitable reality.
Slumbers stressed that there have been substantial changes in sports over the past year, and it would be impractical for the R&A or golf as a whole to ignore the cultural changes taking place on a worldwide scale. He assured that all options would be thoroughly considered within the parameters of their deliberations.
Moreover, Slumbers anticipated protest actions during this year’s tournament, and his expectations were confirmed when “Just Stop Oil” protesters briefly interrupted play at the 17th hole on Friday. The security team, along with player Billy Horschel, swiftly apprehended the protesters, and the grounds crews efficiently used leaf blowers to clear the confetti from the 17th hole area.
The tournament kicked off with an impressive start as 6-foot-8 amateur Christo Lamprecht and local favorite Tommy Fleetwood surged ahead in Round 1, creating an early lead. However, with a cluster of talented players close behind, the competition remained wide open.
What an amazing day for Ryan! Walked #1 with @harmanbrian and putted for him; tons of stuff from @bubbawatson and more – can’t thank @PGATOURRogers enough for making this day so special at the @THEPLAYERSChamp at @TPCSawgrass! pic.twitter.com/PIl0t0eNIo
— John Decker (@JYDecker) March 13, 2019
By the end of Friday, any doubts about the tournament’s direction had faded away. Brian Harman, taking to the tee on Friday morning, displayed a commanding performance, taking full control of the Open. He showcased remarkable prowess, securing four consecutive birdies from the second through fifth holes and then adding an eagle on the 18th, which resulted in an astounding five-shot lead over Fleetwood.
While others in the field struggled to make progress and notable players like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Thomas were eliminated due to the cut, Brian Harman stood strong at the midpoint of the championship. Given such a substantial lead midway through the Open, Brian Harman was cautioned about staying grounded and focused.
Rory McIlroy offered him some valuable advice, emphasizing the importance of not getting carried away with thoughts of potential outcomes or celebrations, and instead, remaining present and in the moment. McIlroy thought Brian Harman cool and collected demeanour will help him keep his composure and concentration throughout the rest of the event.
— Brian Harman (@harmanbrian) July 8, 2019
Throughout the tournament, there were several unusual and quirky incidents, adding to the Open’s charm. These included a bird seemingly targeting Viktor Hovland, Wyndam Clark’s shot bouncing off a fan’s iPad, and players hearing TV commentary on shots they were about to play. Despite these oddities, as the weekend approached, the competition boiled down to Brian Harman and the rest of the field.
Brian Harman’s Dominant Performance: A Triumph at The British Open
On Saturday, Jon Rahm injected some excitement into the tournament, delivering a remarkable performance with a Royal Liverpool-record 63, bringing him to 6-under. Brian Harman, on the other hand, encountered a shaky start, bogeying two of his first four holes, which reduced his lead to just two strokes. However, Brian Harman displayed resilience, finding his rhythm and sinking four birdies during the rest of the round, pushing him to an impressive 12-under total and once again securing a five-stroke advantage, this time over Cameron Young.
Having another night to sleep on the lead, Harman had ample time to reflect on the life-changing possibilities that a major victory could bring. In the aftermath of Saturday’s round, he candidly shared his aspirations, admitting that he had envisioned winning majors throughout his entire life. The pursuit of such triumphs fueled his relentless work ethic, dedication to practice, and willingness to make sacrifices in his quest for greatness.
After a sunny and breezy start to the tournament, Sunday lived up to the infamous reputation of Open championships with nasty weather descending upon the course. The spitting rain drenched the venue, and umbrellas dotted the landscape. Rory McIlroy, following his tradition, initiated a charge from deep in the field on Sunday, securing birdies on three consecutive holes to reach an impressive 6-under and advance onto the front page of the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, Brian Harman faced an early challenge, faltering with a bogey on the second hole, narrowly avoiding sending his approach out of bounds. The bogey at the fifth further added to the pressure.
However, Harman demonstrated his tenacity and determination. He showcased his skills, sinking a 13-foot birdie putt at the sixth hole, and then impressively nailed a 23-footer for another birdie at the seventh. This string of excellent play allowed him to bounce back from the early setbacks and maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard. With Rahm closing in, trailing by three strokes, there was still plenty of golf to be played, setting the stage for an exciting finish to the tournament.
Throughout the week, Brian Harman had six bogeys on his scorecard. Impressively, after four of those bogeys, he quickly rebounded with birdies, showcasing his resilience and determination. At No. 1, he gave one of his most impressive performances. 14, where he sank a 40-foot putt for a birdie, solidifying his dominance and making his mark in the history of golf’s oldest major.
The Journey of Brian Harman: From Junior Golfer to Major Champion at The British Open
Reflecting on his journey in golf, Harman shared his experiences, including his successful run as a junior golfer with victories like the U.S. Junior title and being ranked as the No. 1 amateur in the world for a significant period. Despite having a strong pedigree, he encountered some challenges during his college days, which led to a temporary setback in his progression. Throughout his professional career, Harman acknowledged that he had experienced ups and downs, with moments of excellence and some struggles.
But last year he believed he had learned something important, and it turned out to be the turning point for him. His renewed focus and dedication were evident during the Open Championship, and he expressed gratitude and happiness for his current state of play. Overall, Harman gave a standout performance and acknowledged the struggle it had taken to get to this position in his golf career.
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