HOYLAKE, England - Brian Harman, who is a University of Georgia graduate, turned back every challenge in the British Open, from big names to bad weather, and took his place among major champions Sunday with a victory that was never seriously in doubt at Royal Liverpool.
Harman twice responded to a rare bogey with back-to-back birdies, leaving everyone else playing for second. He closed with a 1-under 70, making an 8-foot par putt on the last hole for a six-shot victory.
At age 36, he is the oldest first-time major winner since Sergio Garcia was 37 when he won the Masters in 2017.
That wasn’t a surprise. Not many would have seen this coming at the start of the week. Harman had gone 167 tournaments over six years since his last victory in the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. This is only his third title in his 12 years on the PGA Tour.
And then the avid outdoorsman made winning golf’s oldest championship look as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
Masters champion Jon Rahm birdied his last hole for a 70 to make it a four-way tie for second with Tom Kim (67), Sepp Straka (69) and Jason Day (69).
That turned out to be the B-flight.
Harman took the lead on Friday morning with the second of four straight birdies early in the second round. He never trailed over the final 51 holes, leading by five shots after the second round and five shots after the third round.
There was one anxious moment early on Sunday in a steady rain. Harman hit his drive into a gorse bush left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole and had to take a penalty drop. It led to his second bogey of the round.
Rahm, playing in the group ahead, looked to get one of those breaks that fall to major winners. His drive had landed between bushes, allowing for a shot just short of the green and a birdie.
The lead was down to three shots. The rain wasn’t stopping. The rest of the links, along with the pressure that comes with Sunday at a major, was still ahead of him.
Harman drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 sixth, a 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole and he was on his way.