World number one Scottie Scheffler’s amazing run of results in 2023 looked certain to come to an end on a rain-soaked final day of the 151st Open.
Scheffler has finished no worse than 12th in any of his 16 events this season and no lower than fifth in his last seven starts.
However, that streak appeared to be over despite a final round of 67, the former Masters champion leaving himself too much to do following earlier rounds of 70, 75 and 72 at Royal Liverpool.
Scheffler began the final round in a tie for 63rd but took advantage of an early dry spell to cover his first 13 holes in four under par.
A wild drive on the 14th, which ironically finished next to an instructional ‘Swing Zone’ in the spectator village, cost Scheffler his first shot of the day, but he bounced back immediately to birdie the par-five 15th.
Scheffler holed from 20 feet for par on the 17th following a poor chip, but was unable to birdie the par-five 18th as the forecast rain arrived and a closing 67 – matching the best of the day so far by Adrian Meronk – meant Scheffler was in a tie for 30th when he signed his card.
At the top of the leaderboard, fellow American Brian Harman took a five-shot lead into the closing 18 holes in pursuit of his first major title.
Only two players in championship history have squandered such an advantage after 54 holes, Macdonald Smith in the last Open staged at Prestwick in 1925 and Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999.
Harman, who led by one at the same stage of the 2017 US Open before finishing second behind Brooks Koepka, said: “You’d be foolish not to envision (lifting the Claret Jug) and I’ve thought about winning majors for my whole entire life.
“It’s the whole reason I work as hard as I do and why I practise as much as I do and why I sacrifice as much as I do.
“If that’s going to come to fruition for me (on Sunday), it has to be all about the golf. It has to be execution and just staying in the moment.”
Harman’s nearest challenger was fellow American and last year’s runner-up Cameron Young, with Masters champion Jon Rahm another stroke back after storming through the field with a flawless 63.
Home favourite Tommy Fleetwood was part of a five-strong group, which included Viktor Hovland and Jason Day, starting the final round seven off the pace.