Two things can be true. This was a boring major, but it was still a thrill to watch Brian Harman play Royal Liverpool. If you were a Tommy or Rahm or Rory backer, or just hoping for drama at the finish, maybe your appreciation of Harman’s work is less enthusiastic. I’m not going to shout you down for that. I’d like competitive majors with drama in the final hour. But I also found myself legit moved with excitement when he’d punch back with mini-birdie runs after it looked like things could get close. Watching him birdie the 14th, one of Hoylake’s most punishing holes, and then follow it up with another birdie at 15, felt like an appropriate end to this ass-kicking of a performance. I grinned when the ball rolled in at 14 — it was exciting to see that!
It sounds like some of these punch-backs were motivated by Harman’s clear awareness of those rooting for him to fail. “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 while sitting next to his new Claret Jug. “That helped.”
He’d later add, “If they wanted me to not play well they should have been really nice to me.” Some of our most interesting athletes are the ones who appear dispassionate on the outside but are absolutely roasting underneath, carrying around every slight or competitive challenge.
As he became a main character this week and was asked to talk more, I found Harman to be simple, sharp, and enjoyable to listen to. You could say the same about his golf game — a precise and not-too complicated plan to avoid the bunkers and take advantage of a course that doesn’t auto-populate the leaderboard with only the biggest hitters.
This was not a peak year for the men’s majors, with two players you would not consider “stars” winning the last two events (if you’re down about that, I wouldn’t check next year’s venue lineup for a pick-me-up.) But both Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman are elite pros, the latter having done it for a decade. He was not some long shot walking out of the sea to steal a trophy. He’s been good, and he was great this week. His strokes-gained chart is damn near a perfect pentagon, and it was just as pretty in action on the course.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.