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We’ve had the Duel in the Sun, now we’ve had the Runaway in the Rain. Congratulations to Brian Harman – the 2023 Open champion and winner of the Gold Medal.

Let’s get out the red pen and dish out some grades from Royal Liverpool…

Brian Harman: A+

We’ll start with our newly-crowned Champion Golfer.

The first Brian and the fifth left-hander to win a major may have killed this tournament as a spectacle like it was a deer in his crossbow sight, but my word what a performance.

It wasn’t just the fact that he won, it was the way in which he did it.

Harman went to 10-under par with his final shot of the second round. No other player got to double figures.

And whenever someone threatened his lead, whether it be a rampaging Jon Rahm, or a recovering Rory McIlroy, or a tenacious Tom Kim, Harman would just do what he does best: find the green, and make the putt.

• 10 things Brian Harman gets for winning The Open

Alex Fitzpatrick: A+

Fitz Jr’s career earnings before this week, according to the remarkably precise European Tour website, were €180,882.64. His tie for 17th at Hoylake, aided by a stunning 65 on Saturday, will essentially double that.

And, to top it all off, he beat his big brother Matthew by four shots on his major debut.

Matthew Jordan: A+

2023 Open

What a great little subplot this was. The Hoylake resident and Royal Liverpool member got the 151st Open Championship underway and four days later he signed for a 70 and a top 10. He won’t forget that in a hurry.

Royal Liverpool: A

What a golf course Hoylake is.

If you miss fairways and greens here, or find yourself in one of those pot bunkers, you’re in trouble – and that’s exactly how links golf should be. Just a shame about the weather, really. (More on that later.)

So while we didn’t get a winner in quite the same league as the Wirral club’s spectacular roll call, it’s fitting that one of the straightest hitters on tour would end up with the Claret Jug in his hands, leaving genuine superstars of the game like Rory McIlroy and John Rahm in his dust.

Aside to this, Hoylake is also one of the best – if not the best – courses on the rota to watch golf, with plenty of space, greens surrounded by natural contours, and those delightful little grandstands dotted around the joint.

Speaking of which…

The fans: B

Golf fans are a rare breed – we’ve been over that already – and, Augusta patrons aside, Open galleries are as respectable as they come.

While it felt a bit flat over the weekend – thanks to a combination of Harman and the filthy conditions – you can only applaud the 261,180 of these beautiful lunatics for their dedication to watching the best players at golf’s oldest major.

I must, however, grade them down a mark because there were a few “mashed potato” and “get in the hole” calls.

This is not the USA people. Leave that nonsense there.

• The weird and wonderful golf fans of The Open

Jon Rahm: C

Flubbing his way to an opening-round 74 before a calm and collected 70 on Friday so he could play in the preferable conditions on Moving Day was a hell of a power play.

There were murmurings around Hoylake that Rahm and Rory McIlroy were irritated by playing partner Justin Rose’s slow play in the opening two rounds, but whatever the reasons for Rahm’s lacklustre start, it left him with too much to do.

A future Champion Golf, for sure, but for now he must wait.

Rory McIlroy: C

Another major, another back-door top 10 for McIlroy.

It’s the hope that kills you. How much longer are we going to let him keep doing this to us? The dude’s collecting yellow Wikipedia squares like they’re going out of business.

Right, everyone, you’re all BANNED from talking about McIlroy’s chances at the Masters next year. In fact, just keep his damn name out your ******* mouth.

• Rory McIlroy and time’s merciless burden

The bookies: D

A second successive 125-1 major champion. But what a ludicrous price for a man boasting these stats:

No, of course I didn’t back him. But you did, didn’t you? Because you’re not silly.

Mother Nature: F

Oh for this Open to have been played six weeks before when a run of 50-odd days without rain had left Royal Liverpool bone dry and browning out nicely. With a touch of wind, we were all set for a proper ‘English’ Open.

But then July came and so did the rain, and Hoylake was suddenly green and glorious. And then came the torrential rain, and this corner of the Wirral turned a rather bleak brown.

It all meant the 151st was a birdie fest – and that just isn’t what we pay our money for.

Golf’s governing bodies: F

And so another men’s major season finishes before it feels like it’s really begun. It’s 264 – TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOUR – days until the Masters gets underway.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the four majors in four months thing isn’t working. Stop pandering to the FedEx Cup Playoffs or, even worse, other sports, and move the PGA to earlier in the year, keep the Masters in April and the Open in July, then have the US Open in September.

This four month window within which we currently operate is far too intense.

Justin Thomas: F

If it wasn’t for the fact he will almost certainly get a Ryder Cup pick, JT will be desperate for 2023 to end.

And now we’re done here, Michael McEwan’s deep dive on the two-time PGA Championship winner’s woes is absolutely where you should head next.

See you in Augusta.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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