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Open Championship review: Brian Harman enters the Major league

Unheralded American raider Brian Harman cruised to Open Championship glory at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, becoming a Major champion at the age of 36.

The diminutive left-hander started his final round with a five-shot lead, then overcame an early wobble with some fantastic golf from the sixth tee onwards.

Back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh holes saw Harman kick clear of the chasing pack and the pre-tournament 110-1 outsider went on to complete a six-shot victory.

Harman's success means he will enter next month's FedEx Cup playoffs as a serious runner, while a Ryder Cup debut in September has become a realistic possibility.

WhatThe Masters
WhereAugusta National, Augusta, Georgia
WhenThursday 11th - Sunday 14th April, 2024
How to watchSky Sports Main Event & Golf
OddsJon Rahm 15/2, Rory McIlroy 8/1, Scottie Scheffler 9/1, Brooks Koepka 14/1, Jordan Spieth 16/1

Harman shows off his battling qualities

Brian Harman is only five feet and seven inches tall - one of the shortest players in professional golf - so keeping up with the powerhouses in the modern game has been extremely challenging for the Georgia man.

With so many long drivers crushing balls over 300 yards with ease, it is difficult for Harman to compete on lots of courses. Rory McIlroy, for example, averages 326 yards off the tee on the PGA Tour this season, but Harman averages only 294.

He needs to make up for his lack of length by excelling in other departments.

Harman has always been excellent on the greens. If he can keep his ball in play off the tee, his short-game skills allow him to flourish closer to the hole.

The St Simons-based pro won the 2014 John Deere Classic as his PGA Tour maiden title, then followed up with victory at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship.

Harman has never been a regular title contender at Majors, but he slowly developed a decent record in the biggest events, hinting that he could be a threat.

A share of second place behind Brooks Koepka in the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin, was his previous best Major effort.

Harman followed that bold Erin Hills display with 13th spot in the US PGA, then 12th in the 2021 Masters.

As far as the Open Championship goes, he tied for 26th place on his debut in the 2014 edition at Royal Liverpool, showing a liking for the course he conquered last week.

Open form figures from the last three years of 19-6-1 show how Harman became a serious Claret Jug contender and he is 66/1 to retain his title in 12 months' time.

Rahm underlines his Open credentials

Jon Rahm has twice won the Irish Open on links terrain and he has Open Championship form figures of 11-3-34-2 from the last four editions.

It is clear that the Spaniard is ready to win the Claret Jug and he can already be backed at 9/1 for next year's event.

Rahm took a month away from competition before the Open last week, recharging his batteries, and he made a slow start at Royal Liverpool.

An opening round of 74 left him with a mountain to climb, but the Masters champion almost succeeded.

Rahm lit up the links with a Saturday 63, setting a new course record at Royal Liverpool to roar up the leaderboard.

After five holes of the final round on Sunday, Rahm was only three shots behind Brian Harman, but that was as small as the gap got.

Talented Kim needs to get back to fitness

Sharing second place with Rahm at Royal Liverpool was Tom Kim, who battled through an ankle injury to post an Open Championship personal best.

Kim, a 21-year-old South Korean, has huge potential. He has already won twice on the PGA Tour and finished eighth at the US Open last month.

The extent of the ankle problem he suffered at Hoylake this week remains to be seen, but when Kim gets back to full fitness he will expect to challenge in every Major.

Kim, who finished 16th on his Masters debut in April, is 66/1 for the Augusta showpiece next year, while he can be backed at 45/1 for next year's Open.

The US PGA has proved his weakest Major to date - he is yet to make the cut from his three appearances.

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