Hunter Harman becomes the hunted after taking lead at Open

golf21 July 2023 16:48| © AFP
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Brian Harman © Getty Images

American Brian Harman is on course for the biggest win of his career after surging to the top of the Open Championship leaderboard, reaching 10 under par after his second round on Friday.

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The world number 26 has two wins on the US PGA Tour, with the second of those coming six years ago.

But his form at Hoylake has not come out of the blue – he has five top-10 finishes this season and was tied for sixth at last year's Open.

The closest he has come to winning a major so far was at the 2017 US Open, where he led after three rounds before finishing joint second behind Brooks Koepka.

"I felt that after I won the tournament (Wells Fargo) and had the really good chance at the US Open in 2017 that I would probably pop a few more off, and it just hasn't happened. I've been right there," said Harman.

"I don't know why it hasn't happened, but I'm not going to quit. I'm going to stick with it and just keep after it, and hopefully it'll pop one day."

Despite an impressive year on the Tour, Harman's results at the majors in 2023 have so far been disappointing.

After missing the cut at the Masters in April he took out his frustration by killing a turkey and a pig in a hunt back home.

"I've been a hunter my entire life. I enjoy the strategy of it," added the man from Savannah, Georgia.

"We eat a lot of wild meat at my house. I enjoy butchering, and I do a lot of hunting."

There was no need to lash out on Friday, with rest ahead of the weekend top of Harman's agenda after a round that opened up a five-shot lead by the time he had reached the clubhouse.

Resuming at four under, one behind the overnight leaders, Harman shot into the lead thanks to three long birdie putts at the second, third and fourth.

At the par-five fifth, his approach shot hit the flag to leave a simple putt for a fourth consecutive birdie.

He then recorded 12 consecutive pars.

But the best was to come on the 18th as he produced what he described as "my two best swings of the day" to set up an eagle.

"I think when I held the 54-hole lead at the US Open, I just probably thought about it too much," said Harman.

"Just didn't focus on getting sleep and eating right, so that would be my focus this weekend."

Referring to Friday's round at Royal Liverpool, he said: "There were several holes where it could have gone either way. I could have made several bogeys on the back nine.

"Just really fortunate to finish where I did and real pleased with it."