News Update


The Open: Brian Harman’s win at Royal Liverpool was praised at a local American diner

People soon realized they were eating with the new Open winner, who was known as “the butcher of Hoylake” because he liked to kill and eat big game.

And for the first time, there was a real buzz about an American golfer who had just won the oldest and most famous major in the sport.

As soon as Harman smiled, everyone started taking pictures, and once a table was found, beer started coming out of the Claret Jug. He had a party with Sepp Straka and JT Poston, two other pros.

Their little area of Hickory’s Smokehouse, where the famous trophy was sitting at the end of the table, was full of laughter and happiness.

It was a big change from a few hours earlier, when the 36-year-old winner had played the best golf of his life in a gloomy, rainy setting.

When people are holding umbrellas, it’s hard to cheer, but I’ve never seen a quieter tournament or less love for the winner, especially when they were making a great golf shot.

The crowds were obviously hoping for a home win, but Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy couldn’t match the amazing performance of the Georgia product, who won by six shots.

Even though they were wet, those fans were also eager to see a game. Again, Harman ruined the fun by keeping the rest of the field far away, just like he did when he made an eagle on Friday at lunch and took a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

Still, the job had to be done by a player who hadn’t won since 2017, even though in that time he had 29 top-10 wins. He played his best golf in the last two rounds. He was calm, strong, and focused.

But not many people in the crowd spoke up to say that his approach play was good. “There were a few times when I got up there and thought, “Wow, that’s better than I thought.”

Then there was how accurate his putting was. His only mistake all week was missing a 7-foot putt on the 13th hole of his final round. This was the only time he missed a putt from within 10 feet on greens that had stumped many of his competitors.

Harman gives credit to a device he found at home that helps him think on what he did and let him make a key technical change. “It looks like a silly mirror, but it has something like a better release pattern,” he said.

“I was just making too many short putts. I spent a lot of time just feeling the ball and hitting it with my putter almost like a baby draw, and it’s been great for the last month or so.”

The best in the world.

And combined with a strong desire to not waste this chance to win his first big title. How did he deal with the ghost when he was 13? By making a birdie from 40 feet at the next hole, which was one of the hardest on the course.

Before that, his tee shot on the tricky par-3 sixth hole made a similar impression after he had played the first five holes in two over par.

At that point, there was a little bit of danger. Cheers could be heard from other places, which might have encouraged McIlroy and Jon Rahm to charge.

But Harman shut the door on all that drama in a quiet way. At the seventh hole, he made another good birdie to keep him on track.

“You’re going to make bad shots with the weather and the situation,” he said. “I knew that how I answered that question would determine if I was sitting here (with the trophy) or not.”

It rained nonstop, but they put on an amazing and determined show. On the back nine, the wind died down, making it much less possible that the short, controversial 17th hole would cause a collapse like Jean van de Velde’s, which was at that point the only hope for the rest.

As I walked right behind Harman for about 150 yards to the last tee, I was surprised by how quiet the crowd was. On what should have been a loud walk to the last tee, there was only a little bit of clapping.

Fans may not have liked his hunting hobby or the fact that he barely showed any feeling on his way to fame.

When he finally got out of his second bunker of the week and landed on the home green, he got the praise he earned. After that, he finally let himself believe that the job was done.

That’s when his feelings became clear, and we saw a smile that brightened the dark skies above. Harman, who used to be the best amateur player in the world, may have thought he had missed his chance when he finally reached his full potential.

“I’m 36 years old,” he said. “The kids are getting older. All of these young guys coming out hit it a mile, and they’re all ready to win. I mean, when will it be my turn again?

“It’s been tough to handle. I think someone said that I’ve had more top-10s than anyone else since 2017. So, when you’re done, you’re like, “Damn, man, I had that one, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.”

This win will make American Ryder Cup leader Zach Johnson very happy. On Saturday, when Harman played with Fleetwood, he didn’t seem to be scared by the Englishman’s passionate home fans.

Harman thought that silence was worth its weight in gold, and that’s what the Americans will want in September in Rome. He seems to be a good fit for the job.

“I enjoy match play,” Harman said. “When I’ve played in match play events, I’ve always done well. I did really well in match play as a kid and as an adult. I like going head-to-head with other people.”

As the best player of the year, he will go to Italy to try to break more European hearts.

“To come out and put a performance like that together, from start to finish, I just felt like I had a lot of control,” he said Sunday night. “I don’t know why this week, but I’m glad it happened this week.”

As the Claret Jug’s visit to that West Kirby restaurant showed, the so-called trophy hunter has finally become a successful trophy hunter.


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