Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman won The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, England on Sunday, July 23, 2023.

Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major

JAUDON SPORTS

Updated July 23, 2023 at 11:18 p.m.

“I've got a lot of layers, man. I'm like an onion.” 

Savannah native Brian Harman only said this jokingly after winning The 151st Open Championship at The Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England on Sunday, July 23.

All joking aside, the layers to Harman are real. The thing is, he hasn’t been big on peeling any of them back for us to see during his career. Over the weekend, the Savannah Christian graduate and former NCAA Champion at the University of Georgia used a self-described “gritty” mentality to win his first ever major championship, also becoming the first Savannah native ever to win one of the Tour’s “Big Four” events (Masters, US Open, PGA Championship, British Open).

click to enlarge Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major
Kyle Terada/UTSN

Layers or not, he now has a place among the immortals of golf. There aren’t many major champions walking around this planet and now he is one of them and Savannah has produced one of them. It is one of the biggest sporting achievements in the city’s history, and I would argue it’s THE BIGGEST.

Just so happens, the 5-foot 7-inch lefty is the one who produced it.

“I'm over the moon,” said the man of few words and fewer putts. “Stoked.”

click to enlarge Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major
Kyle Terada/UTSN

Harman, who shot 13-under for the week, became just the third left-hander ever to win The Open (Bob Charles, 1963 and Phil Mickelson, 2013). He joined an illustrious list of former Open champions at The Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Harman is on it, alongside names like Tiger Woods, Walter Hagen, Rory McILroy and Bobby Jones.

It was his third career win on the PGA Tour and his first since 2017. After winning the 2014 John Deere Classic and the 2017 Wells Fargo Classic, Harman played in 167 professional events without winning. Lucky No. 168 was a start that ended with him earning the largest first-place payout in Open history ($3 million) and a place among the immortals of the game.

“You know, I've always had a self-belief that I could do something like this,” said Harman after his historic six stroke win on Sunday. “It's just when it takes so much time it's hard not to let your mind falter, like maybe I'm not winning again. I'm 36 years old. Game is getting younger. All these young guys coming out, hit it a mile, and they're all ready to win. Like when is it going to be my turn again. It's been hard to deal with.”

click to enlarge Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major
Kyle Terada/UTSN

Fellow Savannah native Gene Sauers won the 2016 U.S. Senior Open on The Champion’s Tour, and that too was a big deal. Winning The British Open is a completely different level, however. For whatever reason, Harman doesn’t seem to have the same support from Savannah as the city gives many of its other star athletic products. Perhaps it’s because Harman is, as The Guardian’s Michael Butler wrote, “neither an underdog nor a superstar.” Or maybe it’s because a lot of fans in Savannah are irked by his longtime decision to ignore (or allow) Sea Island, Georgia to be called his “home.”

He lives in Sea Island and he is from Savannah. What “home” means can be a big deal to some and Harman rarely if ever mentions Savannah in any public way.

(You can see my Twitter account @JaudonSports) for more of those layers to Harman’s story).

click to enlarge Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major
Kyle Terada/UTSN

The crowd at Royal Liverpool actually booed Harman on the first tee on Sunday. Why? Who knows, but Harman gave a glimpse underneath another layer of his when he talked about the fans rooting against him Sunday.

“After I made the second bogey (on Saturday), a guy, when I was passing him, said, ‘Harman, you don't have the stones for this.’ So that helped,” said Harman.

“If they didn’t want me to play well, they should have been nice to me.”

How’s that for an English onion? His legendary junior amateur career began at Southbridge Golf Club and it has reached its pinnacle across the pond. It’s time for Savannah to give Harman his flowers. The city government should recognize him, as should the leaders at Savannah Christian. How they do it is up to them, but this shouldn’t be dismissed as a surface-level accomplishment. Levels (and layers) to it, man.

It took 151 years for Savannah to have a major champion winner. So, chances are, none of us here today will get to witness another one again. Think about the significance of that. Harman will be while he holds The Claret Jug for the next 12 months.

“It's pretty surreal. It really hasn't sunk in yet,” he said in the short-and-sweet(ish) fashion with which he answers most questions.

One reporter asked: “Curious, do you have anything specific in mind that you're going to drink out of that jug?” Harman’s complete answer of “Guinness” was followed-up with another question: “Tonight?”

“Tonight,” he said. “'ll be buying lots of beers when I go home.”

click to enlarge Savannah native, Savannah Christian graduate Brian Harman wins first major
Kyle Terada/UTSN

Published July 23, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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