Brian Harman clinches The Open as Rory McIlroy curses his luck
We have a first-time major winner for the second time in a row.
Brian Harman has followed US Open champion Wyndham Clark in clinching a major for the first time. Rory McIlroy will head into 2024 having not won a major in a decade.
The 36-year-old Georgia native started the final round of The Open Championship five shots clear of Cam Young, but with plenty of other world-class stars not far off and hoping they could go low as he faltered. For the second round running, Harman opened the door with early bogeys before recovering to slam the door shut.
In the end he finished on -13 to end up six clear of four players tied for second place - Tom Kim, Sepp Straka, Jason Day and Jon Rahm.
On the back nine, Harman had recovered the shots he dropped earlier in his round and he was looking serene. Further up the Royal Liverpool golf course, a player that got within four strokes of his lead was cursing his luck. It had all started well for McIlroy, with a 48-foot putt disappearing and another birdie on the next hole but he ran out of steam on the back nine:
Listen to that roar.
The fans have braved the elements.
They have been rewarded with a brilliant Rory McIlroy birdie. pic.twitter.com/GLMc2K4Ik6
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 23, 2023
Sky Sports apologised for Rory McIlroy after he was caught cursing - admonishing himself - after a poor approach on the 16th. "You can't go left of the pin on 16," said commentator Nick Doughtery as McIlroy's approach found the green then rolled off.
As McIlroy cursed [f**k, for anyone wondering], Dougherty added, "Apologies for any language you may have heard there."
McIlroy ends up bogeying to drop back to -5. He got back to -6 but missed out on that tie for second place when another putt on the 18th rolled just past the hole, summing up a week when his driving and approach play was tight but his putting fell off.
Rory McIlroy on close major calls
Following his closing round of 68, Rory McIlroy reflected, on Sky Sports, that Brian Harman had been too good for all comers. Were it not for the American, he mused, he would have been right in the hunt for a second Claret Jug.
Later, in his press conference appearance, he was asked about being 'there or thereabouts' in seven of the last eight majors. He commented:
"Over the last two years would I have loved to have picked one of those off that I finished up there? Absolutely.
"But every time I tee it up or most times I tee it up, I'm right there. I can't sit here and be too frustrated. My game is in a -- you think about my performances in the majors between like 2016 and 2019, it's a lot better than that. Again, I'm optimistic about the future, and just got to keep plugging away."
McIlroy said there are a lot of big individual tournaments and honours to be fought over, in the coming months, but his focus is already turning to taking on the Americans in the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman should be facing off against McIlroy and Team Europe when that tournament rolls around, in two months' time.
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