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Tournament Highlights – The Open 2023

Tournament Highlights - The Open 2023
(Action Plus Sports Images/Alamy)

Here are all the key details you need to know about what happened in the 151st Open, including how Brian Harman won and insights about the course.

Location

Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England

Yardage

7,383; par 71

Tournament Record

264 – Henrik Stenson (2016)

Purse

$3 million

Tournament Insight

The Open, which is run by the R&A, is essentially a world championship with the most diverse international field of the four men’s majors. It is the only major played outside of the U.S. and moves around on a rota of courses in the U.K. In 2023, it was played at Royal Liverpool for the 13th time. The course fell off the rota after 1967 but returned in 2006, with Tiger Woods winning, and 2014, when Rory McIlroy claimed the title. 

Course Insight

Royal Liverpool has a rich history stretching back to its founding in 1869 when it was laid out by George Morris (brother of Old Tom Morris) and Robert Chambers. The original layout is largely intact, with a few holes added and a few eliminated over the years and periodic changes to greens, bunkering, and the length of holes. Famed designer Harry Colt made alterations to the course in the 1920s, Donald Steel in 2001, Martin Hawtree in 2010, and Martin Ebert in preparation for the 1923 Open. 

The most notable of the latest changes was a new par-3 hole that plays as the 17th in The Open, replacing the hole that played as the 15th in the 2006 and 2014 Opens. The new hole is shorter, at 136 yards, but plays uphill and features steep drop-offs from all sides of the green. The 18th hole for The Open (No. 16 as the members play the course) is a par 5 that was lengthened by 58 yards to play at 609, with the out-of-bounds lining the right side of the hole moved in 20 yards. 

How Brian Harman won in 2023

Brian Harman waited until he was 36 years old to win his first major championship, but when he did it was in dominant fashion as he claimed the Claret Jug by six strokes. Harman jumped to a five-stroke lead with opening rounds of 67-65, finishing the second round with an eagle on 18, and stayed ahead by five after a 69 in the third round. The Georgia native was shaky early in the final round with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5 and a par save on the third. His lead was down to three strokes at that point, but Harman responded with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 from 14 and 24 feet. He bogeyed the 13th and again recovered with consecutive birdies on 14 and 15 to give himself a comfortable cushion as pars on the last three holes gave him a closing 70. 

  • Harman led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week (+11.57), missing just one putt inside 10 feet. He was also first in Fairways Hit (42 of 56). 
  • Harman’s six-stroke victory margin matched the second highest at The Open for a U.S. player, behind Tiger Woods (eight strokes, 2000) and equal to Bobby Jones (1927), Walter Hagen (1929), Arnold Palmer (1962), and Johnny Miller (1976). 
  • Harman became the third left-hander to win The Open, joining Bob Charles (1963) and Phil Mickelson (2013). 
  • The low round of the championship was a 63 by Jon Rahm in the third round. It was his only round in the 60s as he finished in a four-way tie for second. 
  • The addition of 58 yards to the 18th hole (to 609 yards) and moving the out-of-bounds stakes inward, led to a scoring average of 4.978 compared to 4.780 at the previous Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014. There were five eagles and 139 birdies compared to nine eagles and 182 birdies in 2014, and 36 scores of double bogey or worse compared to 26. 
  • The site for The Open in 2024 is Royal Troon, which last hosted in 2016. 

This was first published in Essential Golf – you can read the complete magazine here.