Open Championship stock report: Ryder Cup (up!), TV ratings (down!) from Royal Liverpool
It’s true what they say.
The crowds at the Open Championship are unlike any other in golf. They’re loud, they’re boisterous, and they’re strikingly, perhaps even strangely polite … unless you’re a journeyman American trying to win their event.
After a lifetime’s worth of golf events attended within the borders of the United States, I traveled out to Great Britain for the first time to cover this year’s Open Championship. I’d heard a lot about what to expect from those in attendance — their passion for golf, their rabid knowledge, their utmost respect for the tournament and its traditions. But when Brian Harman began his scorching run down the stretch at Royal Liverpool, I was surprised to find the fans uninhibited.
The jeers I heard from a handful of the others in crowd were even less friendly. But ultimately it didn’t matter. The 36-year-old from Savannah, Ga. took home his first major championship by a stunning six strokes on Sunday in Hoylake, and when it was time for him to win the Claret Jug, the Royal Liverpool faithful came around to celebrate him in kind.
They are where we’ll start this week’s Golfer Index, taking stock of the golf world on the heels of the final major of the year.
Open Championship stock report
The Gallery: Stock UP
Yes, they were chippy. But chippy is fun, and it’s how most of us would be in this environment. It was striking to see how passionate and knowledgeable the folks at Hoylake were. Passion is what separates a sport from a hobby, and in this instance, there was no confusing where golf stood.
The TV Ratings: Stock DOWN
You might not like the suggestion that Brian Harman’s victory was lacking juice, but the numbers do not lie. Harman’s blowout win on Sunday at Royal Liverpool was the least-watched Open Championship since 2015, when the tournament was broadcast on cable (ESPN) and resulted in a Monday finish. That’s not great for the folks at NBC, who pour millions into this tournament each year.
Jon Rahm’s fear factor: Stock UP
Jon Rahm did not win the Open, but he certainly reminded the field why he is a terrifying competitor to go up against. His Saturday 63, the lowest score at Liverpool in Open Championship history, was a reminder that few players in golf possess his raw blend of power and touch. His dominant performance at the 2021 Ryder Cup looms large as the golf world’s attention turns to Rome.
Max Homa’s major resume: Stock UP
He’d somehow never recorded a top-10 in his major championship career prior to Sunday at Royal Liverpool. Now he heads into the PGA Tour postseason having bolstered his resume sufficiently to find himself on this year’s Ryder Cup team, which would be his first.
Rory McIlroy’s major resume: Stock NEUTRAL
Thirty top-10s in majors, including four wins, is great. But I bet he’d trade all of them if it meant one more victory on the board.
U.S. Ryder Cup clarity: Stock DOWN
Brian Harman could be a freaky-good match play competitor for the U.S. considering his blend of off-the-tee consistency and putting prowess. Still, he was on the outside looking in when last weekend started, and now he is all but entrenched on the U.S. roster. That means close to half of the group of Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Sam Burns, Cam Young, and Keegan Bradley will not find themselves on the American side.
Good for Harman; bad for almost everyone else.
Justin Thomas’ roster spot: Stock TEETERING
Justin Thomas earned a lot of ink for his Thursday 82 at the Open. Now he’s down at the 3M Open attempting to prove he’s deserving of a roster spot by virtue of his Ryder Cup experience.
My guess is that his spot is pretty safe as a veteran presence on Zach Johnson’s roster. But if his game doesn’t turn around quickly, things could get very dicey, very fast.
Adrian Meronk’s roster spot: Stock LURKING
A comatose Ryder Cup sleeper for you: Adrian Meronk, the Polish pro who is 48th in the world ranking, and 11th on the European team’s Ryder Cup World Points ranking. He boosted his stock with a T23 finish at the Open, but his real prowess has to do with his course experience. Meronk won the Italian Open at Ryder Cup host Marco Simone earlier this year, and finished second at the same event at Marco Simone in 2021.
He would count as something of a surprise for European team captain Luke Donald, but players with his kind of course savvy have been winning the Europeans Ryder Cups for the better part of the last three decades.
The World Feed: Stock SOARING
The World Feed — an international broadcast staged by the R&A and distributed for international broadcasters, including NBC, to utilize — has earned a cult following in Golf Twitter circles. This weekend, though, I spent many an hour watching it from the media center, and good God it’s wonderful.
It’s golf TV for golf sickos, and a part of me wonders whether the R&A can finagle a way to offer it as a paid streaming service to golf fans worldwide during tournament week. I know I’d happily pay $20 for the privilege.
Nick Faldo: Stock REBOUNDING
Sir Nick arrived out of nowhere for his performance as part of the NBC broadcast crew at the Open, and he sounded rejuvenated in his return to the booth.
There are few players in the game with his depth of knowledge. The key is finding an environment where he’s unafraid to share it. Here’s hoping he finds that soon.
The Food: Stock NEUTRAL
British food gets a lot of flack, but I think it’s actually better than advertised (or at the very least better than their Irish neighbors to the west). The GOLF.com crew went to The Tasting Bar and Kitchen in Hoylake on three separate nights last week. The food was delicious, the menu was varied and innovative, and the service was wonderful.
That said, I’d like to volunteer to my services to the R&A as a go-between for the tournament and its local restaurants each year. I can count on my thumbs the number of restaurants that were open past 10 p.m. last week, a time when hundreds of folks in town for the tournament were still looking for a hot meal.
There’s a lot made of the economic impact that comes with hosting a major championship in a small town. Lost in that conversation is the reality that in order for some places to make money, they have to, ya know, stay open.
Layers: Stock UP
It was Mike Tirico who first chided me last week that my Open Championship attire was lacking considerably.
“Welcome to the Open,” he said with a chuckle. “You’re not properly dressed.”
He was right. By the end of the week I was wearing three and four layers to the golf course each day, including a rotation of a handful of suddenly necessary jackets. This one, from Kjus, is the best rain jacket I’ve ever owned (for golf or otherwise). While this one, from Lululemon, was stretchy and water-repellent and, for a moment on Sunday evening, saved me from hypothermia. It’s probably the best colder-weather golf gear I have in my wardrobe, and I did have to fight off my GOLF.com coworkers to keep it in my return luggage home.
The Beatles: Stock UP
John, Paul, George and Ringo had a strong week on TV broadcasts and, it turns out, this website. You can check out our video on our trip to Allerton Manor, the former Beatles home course, below. You might have grown tired of the discourse during the broadcast — and for that I can’t blame you — but it’s hard to take a trip to Liverpool without appreciating the impact the Fab Four had on the city.