124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Say what?

British Open 2023: The gallery comment on Saturday that guaranteed Brian Harman’s victory on Sunday

July 23, 2023

Gregory Shamus

To listen to Brian Harman, he essentially won the Open Championship on Saturday, after hearing something from the gallery that did not sit well with him. The 36-year-old was fresh off a Friday 65, which was 8½ shots better than the field average for the day at Royal Liverpool. He was holding a large lead and playing with Tommy Fleetwood, who grew up 20 miles north of Liverpool in Southport.

It was clear who the gallery wanted to win.

Harman bogeyed the first hole of the third round, parred the next two, then made another bogey on the par-4 fourth hole after driving it in the left rough and hitting his approach shot over the back of the green. He failed to get up and down.

Then he heard something that lit a fire under him more than anything else he heard all week.

“After I made the second bogey yesterday, a guy, when I was passing him, he said, ‘Harman, you don’t have the stones for this,’” Harman said Sunday while holding the claret jug. “That helped.”

Harman birdied the next hole, then the ninth, then the 12 and the 13th and quickly was two under on the day and in complete command of his game and the championship.

“Anyway, it helped snap me back into, ‘I’m good enough to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m going to go through my process and the next shot is going to be good.’

“I shouldn’t have given him credit right here … I knew that the way I responded to that would determine whether I’d be sitting here or not.”

Harman got off to another slow start on Sunday but rebounded and shot one-under 70 to end at 13-under-par total, good enough for a six-shot victory over Tom Kim, Sepp Straka, Jason Day and Jon Rahm. Fleetwood faded over the weekend and tied for 10th place, nine shots behind Harman.

Previously a two-time PGA Tour winner who had only two top-10 finishes in majors before an incredible performance at Hoylake, Harman wouldn’t say more about some of the comments he’d heard from the gallery, but some were about his diminutive stature, some were about his repeated waggles before pulling the trigger and some were simply because he’s not as well-known as some of the game’s bigger names.

Although the “stones” comment crossed the line, Harman said he understood that everyone has someone that they’re rooting for and it’s OK if he wasn’t the one people wanted to win.

But if that was the case, Harman had a solution, if they’d have just asked.

“If they wanted me to not play well they should have been really nice to me,” he joked.

Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.