22 July 2023

Brian Harman hoping history repeats itself after claiming huge halfway lead

22 July 2023

History, if not the weather, was firmly on Brian Harman’s side as the American attempted to claim his first major title in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

A stunning second round of 65 meant Harman became the ninth player in the last 40 years to hold a 36-hole lead of five strokes or more in a major, with each of the previous eight going on to win.

Scottie Scheffler was the most recent to do so in last year’s Masters, while Louis Oosthuizen was the last to achieve the feat in the Open; the South African led by five at St Andrews in 2010 and won by seven.

However, nearest challenger Tommy Fleetwood was in no mood to give up the chase in front of his adoring fans, having recently produced rounds of 64 and 67 to force a play-off in the Canadian Open and winning the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge from four behind at halfway.

“I’ve put in chases before in the past,” Fleetwood said after a battling second round of 71.

“At the end of the day, if somebody said you’re going out in the last group on Saturday, I don’t care what the situation was or what anybody had shot, I’d have probably taken it.

“I can’t have asked for any more from anybody with all the support they’re giving me out here and everybody is talking about it.”

Harman and Fleetwood were not due out until 3.30pm in the final group, with play getting under way shortly before 9am in miserable conditions.

Persistent and occasionally heavy rain greeted the early starters, whose number included world number one Scheffler.

Scheffler made the cut on the mark of three over par thanks to a somewhat fortunate birdie on the 18th on Friday evening, but might have been cursing his luck after starting round three with bogeys on the second and fourth.

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