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Brian Harman has one hand on the Claret Jug here at Royal Liverpool.

The American was a 200/1 outsider before he pitched up on the Wirral links but will now enter Sunday with a five-shot lead in the Open Championship.

Harman has never before converted a 36-hole lead in professional golf but did not show any signs of wilting on the biggest stage of all as he inched ever closer to his maiden major crown.

• Thomas and form’s unrequited love

• Rahm’s charge on moving day at Hoylake

A third round 70 at Hoylake was good enough for a formidable advantage over fellow American Cameron Young, while Masters champion Jon Rahm is a further stroke back.

Meanwhile Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Jason Day, Sepp Straka and Antoine Rozner all need a minor miracle at five-under-par.

The cavalry were on the charge in benign early conditions, with the inspired Rahm shooting a scintillating eight-under 63 to set a minus six total in the clubhouse before Harman had even teed off.

“That’s the best round I’ve played on a links golf course ever,” Rahm beamed after shooting the best ever Open score on this course.

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, birdied three of his first five holes and at one stage was just five shots back before playing his final 13 holes in one-over-par.

But as McIlroy and the rest of the pack faltered, Harman flourished.

• Big names who missed the Open cut

• Who made the cut in all four men’s majors?

Two bogeys in his first five holes gave the field (and the crowd) hope that some stellar names could very quickly reel him in, but Harman soon started playing flawlessly in the rain, making four birdies and nine pars in his last 13 holes.

The brief possibility that his lead could be reduced after finding trouble off the tee on 18 was then extinguished with a nerveless seven-footer for par to close his round.

It is no secret that Harman would not be the most popular winner around these parts –  Fleetwood, his playing partner in the final group, was roared on by thousands but finds himself seven adrift.

Those fans will be desperate for the wind to blow and carnage to ensue on Sunday.

But Harman is on the brink of becoming the Champion Golfer of the Year and Sunday’s events will almost certainly define his career.

He won’t care about spoiling the party – the Claret Jug is in his grasp and a new moniker beckons.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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