Harman retains five-shot lead after British Open third round

Brian Harman
Photo: Photosport

American Brian Harman held his nerve with a third-round 69 to lead the British Open by five shots as Spaniard Jon Rahm soared into contention with a course-record 63 at Hoylake on Sunday.

Harman, seeking his first major title, dropped two shots in the first four holes before birdies at the fifth, ninth, 12th and 13th took him to 12 under par, five ahead of American Cameron Young and six clear of Rahm.

World number three Rahm conjured up eight birdies in a majestic display of ball-striking to give himself a chance to win his third major crown and second of the year.

“That’s the best round I’ve played on a links golf course ever,” Rahm told reporters.

“Honestly, I’m just going to enjoy the afternoon with my family. There’s nothing to be done. I’ve done a lot of good work this week to give myself an opportunity.”

Young, runner-up at St Andrews last year, quietly picked up six birdies on the way to a 66.

“My iron play has been great,” he told reporters. “I’ve just hit a lot of greens and given myself plenty of chances. Honestly, I’ve putted really nicely too.”

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox continued to turn his fortunes around, shooting a two-under 69 to climb more than 20 places to a share of 41st.

The Kiwi No.1 began the major with a disastrous 78 but has responded with 67 and 69.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland shot 66 to move to five under, level with Frenchman Antoine Rozner, Austrian Sepp Straka, Australian Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood whose hopes of becoming the first English winner of the Open for 31 years faded with a 71.

World number two Rory McIlroy collected three early birdies before losing momentum en route to a 69 and at three under par his hopes of claiming a fifth major title at the scene of his 2014 Open triumph are hanging by a thread.

Indian Shubhankar Sharma compiled a tidy 70 to finish at four under, level with England’s Alex Fitzpatrick who carded 65 to finish two shots ahead of his brother Matt, the 2022 U.S. Open champion.

Defending champion Cameron Smith of Australia made a battling 68 to end on one under, but world number one Scottie Scheffler needed two late birdies to complete a 72 and finish at four over.

American Scheffler admitted his chances of claiming a second major crown were slim.

“Unless a hurricane happens this afternoon,” he said. “A hurricane and then some I think is what it’s going to take for me to win.”

– Reuters

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