Brian Harman likes to hunt big game. So much so that he is known for marking his Titleist Pro V1 ball with lines resembling deer tracks. Now Harman has bagged the biggest title of his career, the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in a relatively comfortable walk, winning by six shots.
Not that sitting on the lead is ever easy. As he did in the third round, Harman put up a couple of early bogeys before settling in with a 13-footer for birdie at the par-3 sixth and a 23-footer at the next that steadied the round after the early wobbles. A 40-footer at the 14th erased all doubt.
The key club for Harman all week was the lone non-Titleist stick in the bag – his venerable TaylorMade’s Spider OS CB – a counterbalanced model similar to the putter he used while employing a belly style of putting prior to the ban that started on January 1, 2016.
For the week Harman holed nearly 450 feet of putts and gained nearly 11 shots on the field in strokes gained/putting, ranked first for the week. He also made 56 of 57 putts inside 10 feet, a remarkable show of consistency.
Harman’s putter is 34 inches in length with 2 degrees of loft. “I’ve always preferred a putter with a lower loft,” Harman told Golf Digest a couple of years ago. “Most have 3 or 4 degrees of loft, but I have only 2 degrees on this putter. This allows me to get the ball rolling without it hopping.” As for the oversized head, Harman said, “I’ve always liked a large, face-balanced mallet. It helps the head stay square through the stroke.”
For his irons, Harman employs an interesting setup with three Titleist U•500 utility irons with Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 90HY 6.0 graphite shafts for the 3 to 5-irons and Titleist’s 620 CB irons for the rest of the set with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 steel shafts.
Harman also excelled off the tee, ranking 15th in strokes gained/off the tee despite averaging only 285 yards (261 metres) per measured tee shot. More importantly, however, Harman ranked first in accuracy with his 9-degree Titleist TSi2 with a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 5S shaft, an impressive feat considering he used driver more than 70 percent of the time off the tee.
Not to be overlooked is Harman’s Titleist Pro V1 ball. “I switched to this ball in 2017 from a different company and the effects were immediate,” he said before last year’s US Open. “I just was never able to flight my old ball. I had trouble controlling and especially in the wind and we ended up playing so much wind out here. The effects for me were immediate switching to this Pro V and I mean, it’s been a complete 180. The way that I flight iron shots, the way that I control it around the green… I don’t know how many shots it saved me.
“The reason I switched back to Titleist was because of windy days and with Open Championships and major championships in mind. To flight the ball and not have to worry about it getting up and getting out of hand was a big deal.”
Especially when trying to bag the big one.
What Brian Harman had in the bag in winning the 2023 Open Championship:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Titleist TSi2 (Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 5S), 9 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TS2, 13.5 degrees
Irons (3-5): Titleist U•500; (6-PW): Titleist 620 CB
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider OS CB