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Brian Harman seizes the lead and runs away with it

Brian Harman is all smiles after posting a -10 score.  (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Brian Harman is all smiles after posting a -10 score. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Brian Harman picked a good week to have a good week.

The definition of a journeyman pro — two PGA Tour wins, never a world ranking higher than No. 20 — rode two brilliant rounds to a -10 score halfway through the Open Championship. He walked into the clubhouse at Royal Liverpool an incredible five strokes ahead of his nearest competitor.

One stroke off the lead to start Friday, Harman started hot, running off four straight birdies early in his round. He later closed with an eagle to finish his opening two rounds at 132. If you’re looking for historical precedent, here it is: the last two winners at Royal Liverpool, a couple of guys named Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, began their tournaments with a two-round score of … 132.

“I’ve had a hot putter the last couple days so try to ride it through the weekend,” Harman said after his round. “Thirty-six holes to go, so try to rest up and get ready.”

Harman hasn’t been in this position often, and concedes that he learned a hard lesson the last time he was. Back in 2017, Harman led the US Open at Erin Hills by a stroke over Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas. Harman couldn’t keep pace, and ended up in a tie for second, four strokes behind Koepka.

“When I held the 54-hole lead at the US Open, I just probably thought about it too much,” he said Friday. “Just didn’t focus on getting sleep and eating right. So that would be my focus this weekend.”

Harman has spent the last few years of his career lurking around the top 10 of tournaments all over the PGA Tour, but hasn’t won a Tour event since the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. He conceded that he’s not sure why he hasn’t been able to close the deal.

“I think about it a lot, obviously. I’m around the lead a bunch. It’s been hard to stay patient,” he said. “I don’t know why it hasn’t happened, but I’m not going to quit. I’m going to stick with it and just keep after it, and hopefully it’ll pop one day.”

The way he’s playing now, “one day” could very well be Sunday.