Rahm, Day And Others Fail To Put Pressure On Harman In Damp Finale At Open

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Jon Rahm was so eager to begin chasing down Brian Harman in the final round of the British Open that he was putting his tee in the ground on No. 1 when the starter said: “On the tee, Viktor Hovland.”

Rahm stepped aside and waited his turn, but he was on a mission at Royal Liverpool on Sunday. And after five holes — amid cries of “Do it for Seve!” and “Vamos, Rahmbo!” from spectators — the Spaniard’s deficit to the leader had been trimmed from six shots overnight to three.

It was the closest he, or anyone else, would get all day.

No player in a long and varied list of potential threats to Harman — ranging from major champions (Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day) to a local favorite (Tommy Fleetwood) to up-and-coming talents (Tom Kim) — could mount any sort of sustained challenge to the American left-hander on a wet and miserable afternoon on the Hoylake links.

Harman started his round on 12-under par and finished it on 13 under. None of the chasers made it to 9 under.

“It was tough. It was really tough,” said Sepp Straka, who finished in a tie for second place on 7-under par with Rahm, Day and 21-year-old Kim. “It was hard to really go be aggressive.

“Hats off to Brian because it seemed like he was playing an incredible round in these conditions, which is tough when you’re that far ahead. We really couldn’t make any moves, so it was really hard.”

Likely the most frustrated was Rahm, who couldn’t reproduce his brilliance from Saturday when he shot 63 — the best score in 13 British Opens held at Royal Liverpool — to move into contention.

Out in the next-to-last pairing with Hovland, Rahm even got some fortune along the way, notably on the fifth hole when he pulled his drive and the ball landed right between a bunch of bushes and in a good lie.

Rahm would make a 5-footer for birdie and, 10 minutes later, Harman made bogey on the same hole. The gap was three shots. Finally some intrigue on a day many predicted to be a procession?

Not one bit.

Harman birdied his next two holes and Rahm’s putter pretty much went cold until a birdie from 23 feet at the last for a 70. A tie for second place joined his win at the Masters and a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open, making for a strong year in the majors.

Not that that satisfied him.

“He won by six,” Rahm said of Harman. “It’s not like he won by two or three. He won by six, so there’s nothing really any of us could have done.”

Day started a shot further back than Rahm and a bogey on the third hole, after missing the green with his approach and then missing a 6-foot putt for par, ended any realistic chances of a second major title after the PGA Championship in 2015.

Still, second place was beyond the Australian’s expectations. Since winning the AT&T Byron Nelson, he missed the cut in three of his four events — including the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.

“Considering my play over the last month and a bit hasn’t been that great and then obviously I didn’t have the greatest confidence coming into this week, to be able to finish tied second was nice,” Day said

“But you know,” he added, “I wish I would have cut into the lead a little bit more.”

For Straka, it was his best finish at a major, improving on his tied for seventh at this year’s PGA Championship. The 30-year-old Austrian, who looks headed for a debut Ryder Cup appearance in Rome in September, bogeyed the last after nearly hitting out-of-bounds off the tee to drop out of outright second.

Then there was Kim, the young South Korean starring on another big stage again after two wins on the PGA Tour last year either side of a strong performance in the Presidents Cup.

Playing with an ankle injury, he was tied for the low round of the day with a 67 that didn’t look likely after making bogey at Nos. 1 and 2. He played the last 15 holes in 6 under, the highlight being an eagle at No. 5 after hitting from 251 yards to 12 feet.

“This is just a learning curve, this is my first full year out. These guys have been out here for five to 10-plus years,” Kim said.

“I really have to put it into perspective and keep working hard to keep playing better. I put a lot of work in this year trying to get back to that feeling of kind of contending in big events and it’s kind of nice to see the fruits coming to life.”

Fleetwood, the local hope from just up the coast, couldn’t find any magic on the greens for the second straight day. His chances of finishing second disappeared at the par-3 17th — where he arrived at 6 under for the tournament — when he hit his tee shot into sandy wasteland behind the green.

He made triple and shot 72 for a tie for 10th. It was his seventh top-10 finish in the majors.