Harman maintains five stroke lead at The Open

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.”

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.

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