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Open Championship Review: Harman reigns supreme at wet and windy Hoylake

The 151st Open Championship provided a classic underdog story as Georgia Bulldog Brian Harman emerged triumphant from the gloom at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Merseyside, England on Sunday afternoon.

Harman, available to bet at +11000 before a ball was struck, took control of the tournament with a marvelous 65 on Friday morning and the left-hander never relinquished the lead, securing his first Major title with a six-shot Hoylake victory.

Champion Golfer of the Year looks Ryder Cup bound

Harman, a high-class amateur turned solid PGA Tour professional, had not won on the Tour since the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship but he entered The Open ranked 26th in the world, which is testament to how consistent he has been in recent months.

The 36-year-old Savannah man made use of tee-to-green precision and sharp short-game skills in Thursday's opening round, carding a 67 to sit in a share of fourth place, then he followed up with Friday's course-record-equalling effort.

Harman briefly threatened to fall back into the pack with early bogeys on Saturday but the underdog reached 12-under par and a five-shot lead by the time he walked off the 18th on Saturday, with Cameron Young his closest pursuer.

Once again, Harman struggled to find his best in the early part of the final round, dropping shots at the second and fifth holes, but four birdies and a bogey from the sixth onwards proved more than enough to seal the Claret Jug.

The left-hander has leaped 17 places in the US Ryder Cup points list and looks assured of a spot in Zach Johnson's team in Rome in September. The USA are -225 to retain the cup with Europe +162.

Harman is +6600 to retain The Open Championship at Royal Troon next year and +10000 to win The Masters in his home state of Georgia in April. 

McIlroy's Major drought stretches towards a decade

Much of the talk in the days before the tournament centered around Rory McIlroy, who had won the Scottish Open in thrilling fashion the previous week and claimed his first and so far only Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014.

However, the Northern Irishman never quite found his game on the Royal Liverpool links, briefly threatening a Sunday charge when playing the first five holes in three-under before a bogey at the tenth checked his progress.

McIlroy would finish in a share of sixth place but, for a player of his standing, that will not be considered good enough as his Major championship drought stretches towards ten years - his last triumph coming in the 2014 PGA at Valhalla.

At 34, McIlroy still has plenty of time to add to his four Major trophies but he's now sitting on 20 Major top-ten finishes since he last won one and there appear to be mental hurdles to overcome if he's to realize that dream again.

McIlroy will undoubtedly be popular again by the time Augusta rolls around and he's +800 to complete the long-coveted career Grand Slam by winning the Masters and the same price to win the 2024 Open at Troon.

Spaniard looks capable of winning career Grand Slam

While Harman was the story of the tournament, Jon Rahm was the story of Saturday as the Spaniard carded a course-record 63, lowering the mark which Harman had equalled by two shots.

The Spaniard had looked capable of catching Harman when he moved to within three of the leader at one stage on Sunday but, as the Georgia man bounced back with birdies at six and seven, the Masters champion fell back with a bogey four at the par-three ninth.

However, a joint second-place finish was the latest in a series of strong Major performances from Rahm, who already has the US Open and the Green Jacket safely tucked away in his trophy case.

Rahm, who turns 28 in November, has proven himself to be a competent links golfer, winning the Irish Open twice on links courses and finishing third at the 2021 Open, and he's the +900 second-favorite to win the Claret Jug next season.

The Basque will first look to defend the Masters, for which he is the +750 favorite.

Young comes up short again 

Cameron Young is developing a reputation as a Majors nearly man, the New Yorker teeing off alongside Harman in the final group but struggling to a two-over-par 73 and slipping to a share of eighth place.

Young has had an up-and-down season but his talent is huge and he's now finished in the top eight in four of the last seven Majors. 

He will get the chance to bid for a first piece of PGA Tour silverware in this week's 3M Open, for which he is +1400.

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