Golf history is on the side of the American Brian Harman to win this year’s British Open on Sunday at Royal Liverpool, because only two players, Macdonald Smith in 1925 and Jean van der Velde in 1999, could not win the Open after leading by five shots after the third round of this Major.
In all Majors, it has only happened six times that players lost a lead of five or six shots in the last round. They are Greg Norman (six shots) and Ed Sneed, Mike Brady, Van der Velde, Smith and Tom Watson (all five shots) who lost the klutz in the last round and could not win.
Harman (201, -12) certainly does not want to add his name to this list, especially after he walked the same path in 2017 in the US Open. He then, despite a lead after three rounds, finished second.
The 36-year-old Harman, who is 26th in the golf world rankings, was five strokes ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood when he teed off in Saturday’s third round. He got off to a shaky start, conceded a stroke on the first hole and missed again on the fourth hole.
His lead dwindled to just two shots, but he recovered and made four birdies on the fifth, ninth, 12th and 13th holes to finish in the clubhouse on 69 (201, -12) and five shots ahead.
His biggest danger is the Spaniard Jon Rahm (third in the golf ranking), who earlier broke the course record with his 63 strokes.
Rahm moved up to third 207 (-6) and is just one stroke behind American Cameron Young, who later moved into second behind Harman at 206 (-7).
Young last year at St. Andrew’s finished second in the British Open behind Aussie Cameron Smith after finishing the final round in seven shots under par.
Young and Rahm are followed in joint fourth by Fleetwood, Sepp Straka (Austria), Jason Day (Australia), Viktor Hovland (Norway) and Antoine Rozner (France), who all finished at 208 (-5) in the clubhouse.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot 69 and finished joint 11th at three under par (210, -3). He was very disappointed with his putting and immediately went to the practice green where he polished his game for a long time.
Of the South Africans, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Louis Oosthuizen (both 215, +2) did the best with Thriston Lawrence (216, +3) a further stroke back.
The 22-year-old amateur Christo Lamprecht scored 76 strokes in the third round and is tied for 62nd position.
But his path has already been mapped out, because he is the only amateur who was able to reach the cut-off point and will be honored with the prestigious silver medal as the best amateur.
He joins legends such as José Maria Olazabal (1985), Tiger Woods (1996) and McIlroy (2007) who were also crowned as the best amateur in the Open.