Royal Troon Open Championship: Brian Harman relishing defence

Harman did not return to links golf until making his Open Championship debut in 2014 at Royal Liverpool and said it was then that he “just absolutely fell in love with it”.

“I had a stretch where I missed four cuts in a row at The Open and just couldn’t quite get it figured out but I knew that I really enjoyed the golf even when I wasn’t playing great,” he added.

“It’s a thinking-man’s game. You have to be able to hit every single type of golf shot.

“There are lots of different ways to be successful and that’s something that’s lacking in our game week to week and I wish we had a little bit more of it.

“It’s refreshing to play hard golf that’s not just a one-stop shop.”

When Harman won at Royal Liverpool, he said he suffered “unrepeatable” abuse during the third round, when he was playing with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who was born just up the coast in Southport.

He was also booed on the first tee as he started his final round, although later said that made him more determined to win.

However, the third left-hander to win the Claret Jug after Bob Charles and Phil Mickelson said he found the majority of fans at The Open “knowledgeable” and a “joy to play in front of”.

“Do I expect hostility? I have no idea,” he said. “I’ll be ready for whatever. I’ve always really enjoyed playing golf in front of the fans over there because they understand what a good shot is. They understand what a bad shot is. They get it.”

There will be 10,000 fewer fans at Royal Troon than the 260,000 that were at the Wirral Peninsula course last year. But the 250,000 sell-out for the 152nd Championship – up 70,000 from when it last hosted in 2016 – will be a record for an Open staged in Scotland outside of St Andrews.

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