Brian Harman retains a five-shot lead over the rest of the field heading into the final day’s play at Royal Liverpool but admitted handling the “feverish” support for Tommy Fleetwood, his playing partner, was a challenge as the 36-year-old sought to strengthen his grip on the Claret Jug.
“I knew Tommy was from around here so I knew that he would have a lot of support,” said Harman. “I’d be lying if I didn’t hear some things that weren’t super nice today towards me. Some of it was unrepeatable.”
Harman started his round just as Jon Rahm was finishing his, with the Spaniard applying pressure by shooting a 63, the lowest ever Open score at Hoylake. Harman started shakily, with bogeys at the 1st and 4th, but produced a 69 to move to 12 under par for the tournament.
“I’m really proud of the way that I hung in there”, said Harman. “It would have been really easy to let the wheels start spinning and really kind of let it get out of control, but I just kind of doubled down on my routine. I’d be foolish not to envision [winning], and I’ve thought about winning majors for my whole entire life. Staying patient out there is paramount.”
Harman attributes that patience to a love of hunting. “It’s the strategy. When I go out turkey hunting I can spend all day out there. My dad used to take me out – I knew how to skin a deer when I was eight years old.
“Back home at the hunting place that I own, everything we do is for the wildlife. Then when we harvest it, we respect it and take care of it and feed our families with it.”
Harman’s hobby has led to him being dubbed the “Butcher of Hoylake” by some, although some in the crowd also delighted in calling him “Ricky”, on account of his resemblance to Ricky Ponting, the former Australian cricketer turned pundit, who took a day off from the Ashes in Manchester to visit the Open
“Yeah, I look like him,” conceded a smiling Harman with a smile. “Handsome fella.”
Key to Harman’s continued success was his putting and astonishingly, he is yet to miss a putt at this year’s Open from 10ft or less. How Fleetwood – who made even par to stay at five under – could do with the same consistency.
“It’s clearly in Brian’s hands, he was great,” admitted the Southport local. “I sort of lost my swing a little bit, didn’t feel comfortable. Hit a lot of good putts, just didn’t convert any chances”.