Rahm, Rory, Spieth, Harman and The Weather Surprise at British Open

Rory McIlroy, 2023 British Open, Royal Liverpool,(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 British Open, Royal Liverpool,(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

A very famous sportswriter once wrote: What was supposed to happen didn’t. That pretty much summarizes Saturday at the British Open. But of course, the second part of the sentence is: Other things did. And that also describes some of the events that occurred.

Brian Harman, who was supposed to struggle, didn’t. Instead, he turned himself into Superman on the links. He could not be stopped. He may even have been able to play through Kryptonite.

Harman ever so politely refused to fold. He pretty much kept his drives in the fairway, and when he didn’t, he got out of trouble reasonably well. In the end, he advanced by two shots, to 12-under par, and was still leading after round three. Everyone but Harman was totally surprised.

Jon Rahm was the one who threw up the low round. It was only a surprise because he hasn’t played well lately. The actual surprise is that he wasn’t closer to the lead after round one because Rahm won the Masters this year.  Saturday he transformed back into the normal Rahm and shot a 63, the lowest round ever at Royal Liverpool in a British Open, but not the lowest ever for a British Open. (That would be a 62, by Branden Grace in 2017.)

Jordan Spieth’s putter has gone colder than the Boomerang Nebula.

Rory McIlroy became more than a puzzle. He’s graduated to becoming an enigma, which is a high-class name for a puzzle and also for Hitler’s code machine that took a gazillion women, one in particular, to decode it during WWII in a secret place in England called Bletchley Park. We need to thank them every day for breaking the code so that the Allies knew where Hitler was sending U-boats and other instruments of destruction. Raise your lipsticks in salute! OK, buy a lipstick, then raise it.

McIlroy was brilliant at the Scottish Open, but he’s struggling at the British Open. Of course, the tournament is not over yet, but it would take a miracle or two for him to win it at this juncture. What McIlroy really needs is for this LIV/PIF stuff to be over so he can go back to focusing on his 8-iron or something else golfy. But getting his 24th title last week was a real achievement. Only 25 people are ahead of him on the all-time victory list, and only seven of them are alive.

Jordan Spieth can’t seem to get the ball in the hole. Well, he can, but more often than not, it’s by chipping in or making a miracle shot. His putter has gone colder than the Boomerang Nebula.  Even on the slowest greens on the planet, which is what Royal Liverpool’s apparently are this week, he is struggling. In his defense, the latest picture of the SB2K club seems to show his wife is pregnant again, and that always is a tense time for any guy. Trust me, it’s more tense for the woman who is actually pregnant.

Then there’s the weather. It was supposed to rain. Sheets. It was supposed to be hold-on-to-your-visor windy at the British Open. Naturally, those who played in the morning had near-calm conditions, and the only wind favored them by being at their back on the longest holes.  It hardly rained. Later on in the day, it sprinkled heavily from time to time, and the wind turned around to Friday’s orientation, making the long holes harder.

And now for Sunday at the British Open:

Well, it’s still likely that Brian Harman will give up shots. However, he’s paired with Cameron Young, the long hitter from New York who has yet to win.  So neither will be scared of the other.

Young is five shots back of Harman. While he will likely make up some strokes, it would be extremely unlikely that his first victory would be the British Open.  He did finish second last year, but winning the British Open as his first pro title would be more than extraordinary.

Should Harman slide, Rahm and Viktor Hovland will be there to pick up the pieces and perhaps win the British Open. If not them, then perhaps Jason Day who plays with courage and a good putter.

Antoine Rozner, Sepp Straka, and Shubhankar Sharma need more experience winning at the very top level of the game, although Sepp seems to be a gamer.

Tommy Fleetwood is still the local favorite, and who knows what the crowd will provide.  It’s been reported that a lot of stray shots Palmer hit miraculously found a way back into a playable spot due to friendly gallery “bounces.”

Next. Hovland's Extraordinary Consistency in Major Championships. dark

However, the most amazing story would be if Matthew Fitzpatrick’s brother, Alex, were to overcome an eight-stroke deficit and win. Trust me. That’s not going to happen. But something else will.