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Brian Harman maintains lead as Jon Rahm sets Hoylake Open record

Brian Harman maintains lead as Jon Rahm sets Hoylake Open record

Brian Harman remained the man to catch at the 151st Open Championship as a third round of 69 maintained his five-stroke lead.


Harman began the round five clear of playing partner Tommy Fleetwood and ended it ahead of last year’s runner-up Cameron Young by the same margin as he reached 12 under par.

Masters Tournament champion Jon Rahm surged into contention with a record-breaking 63 to hold third place outright on six under after Moving Day at Royal Liverpool.

Harman and Fleetwood both safely split the first fairway but the American missed the green and made a bogey five.

Another followed at the fourth, with Fleetwood within two after a birdie at the second, before Harman responded at the par-five fifth.

The left-hander wrapped up his front nine with another birdie to get back to level par for the day while Fleetwood bogeyed the tenth.

Harman hit his approach to just over five feet at the 12th and holed a 20-foot putt at the next for back-to-back birdies to stretch his lead.

He said afterwards: “The start was tough. Hit a couple of loose shots. It was nice to turn around and have a nice back nine.

“It would have been really easy to let the wheels start spinning and really kind of let it get out of control, but I just kind of doubled down on my routine and knew I was hitting it well, even though I hadn't hit any good shots yet.”

Harman made a fine par save at the last after sending his tee shot into the left rough and said: “I got sort of a funky break off the tee. I didn't hit a great shot, but it went into a really bad lie where I couldn't chase it down the fairway. Just kind of made a mess of it. So to salvage a five, I was just happy with a five.”

Looking ahead to Sunday, he said: “I've thought about winning majors for my whole entire life. Tomorrow if that's going to come to fruition for me, it has to be all about the execution and just staying in the moment. Just going to try to get a good night's sleep and get out and play a really nice 18 holes.”

Rahm’s front nine was tidy, with birdies at the fifth and ninth, and it was the 22-foot putt at the latter that sparked a stunning round into life.

He followed up with three more immediately after the turn, holing from 14 feet at the tenth and hitting his approaches close at the next two.

The Spaniard then birdied three of the last four to post the lowest round in an Open at Hoylake and move second at the time until he was overtaken by Young, who struck six birdies and one bogey in a 66.

Rahm said: “That stretch of holes from 11 through 14 is usually tough and you’re just hoping to make par. Today (the wind was) down off the right, so it was a much, much easier stretch of holes.

“It has to be up there (with my best rounds). I would look at obviously the opening round at this year’s Masters.

“I was aware it was going to be an important round in terms of the Open. I heard earlier in the week 65 was the lowest here in the Open so to get anywhere near that and even lower was pretty special. I’ve done enough to give myself a chance.”

Viktor Hovland shot 66 to share fourth place, giving his opening birdie back immediately but adding five more including with a 24-foot putt at the last.

He was alongside Fleetwood, Antoine Rozner, Jason Day and Sepp Straka at five under. Alex Fitzpatrick and Shubhankar Sharma completed the top ten a further shot back.

Rory McIlroy birdied three of the first five after a series of accurate approach shots but that was as good as it got for the leader on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, as a bogey at the 12th left him in a share of 11th after signing for a 69.

Hoylake member Matthew Jordan was also in that group alongside Thomas Detry, Tom Kim, Nicolai Hojgaard and Emiliano Grillo.

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