American Brian Harman celebrates on the 18th green after winning the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, Sunday, July 23, 2023.
Kin Cheung/AP Photo
Brian Harman overcame every challenge at the British Open, from big names to bad weather, and took his place among the great champions on Sunday with a win that was never seriously in doubt at Royal Liverpool.
Harman twice responded to a rare bogey with back-to-back birdies, leaving everyone else playing second. He closed with a 1-under 70, putting for par from 8 feet on the final hole for a six-shot victory.
At 36, he is the oldest first-time winner since Sergio Garcia was 37 when he won the Masters in 2017.
That was not a surprise. Not many would have seen this coming at the start of the week. Harman had participated in 167 tournaments in the six years since his last victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2017. This is only his third title in his 12 years on the PGA Tour.
And then the avid outdoorsman made winning golf’s oldest championship seem as easy as fishing in a barrel.
Masters champion Jon Rahm birdied his final hole for a 70 to make it a four-way tie for second with Tom Kim (67), Sepp Straka (69) and Jason Day (69).
That turned out to be Flight B.
Harman took the lead on Friday morning with the second of four straight birdies early in the second round. He never trailed over the last 51 holes, leading by five shots after the second round and five shots after the third round.
There was a moment of anxiety early on Sunday in steady rain. Harman hit his drive into a gorse bush to the left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole and was awarded a penalty drop. He drove to his second bogey of the round.
Rahm, who was playing in the front group, was looking for one of those breaks that fall into the hands of major winners. His drive had landed in the bushes, allowing him a shot just short of the green and a birdie.
The advantage was reduced to three strokes. The rain did not stop. The rest of the links, along with the pressure that comes with Sunday in a major, was still ahead of him.
Harman hit a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 sixth, a 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole and was on his way.
Corey Conners (76) of Listowel, Ontario tied for 52nd with 4 over.