Daily Wrap-up: FedEx St. Jude Classic, Round 2June 07, 2013
By PGATOUR.COM wire services
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Harris English is becoming more comfortable on the PGA TOUR every week, and feels right at home on TPC Southwind's Bermuda grass greens.
English shot a 6-under 64 on Friday to open a two-stroke lead in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. The 23-year-old former Georgia star had never even had a piece of a lead on the PGA TOUR until Thursday when he found himself tied with five others, including Davis Love III, after 18 holes.
He used a hot putter to roll in five birdie putts, holed out from 181 yards for eagle on the par-4 fifth and had only one bogey to finish the second round at 10-under 130.
"It's awesome to be in this position," English said. "I've worked very hard the last couple weeks and couple months to get in this position, and I feel like I'm ready and I feel like I got a lot of good people around me to help me."
Shawn Stefani was second after a 65. Paul Haley II and Scott Stallings each shot 68 to reach 5 under. Love was tied with four others at 4 under after a 70, and defending champion Dustin Johnson also had a 70 to finish at 3 under. Phil Mickelson was at 2 under after a 67 on Friday.
Only four players had rounds of 4 under or better on a near perfect day at TPC Southwind. Doug Labelle II and Scott Verplank were the only other players to go at least 4 under with a 66 apiece.
But English turned in the best round on a course playing very tough despite a temperature around 80 degrees -- very rare at this time of year in Memphis. Any wind came out of the north instead of the south. Combined with the small and firm greens, hitting the greens required precise shots. Hitting the fairways also is a must to control shots to the greens.
"Obviously, if he has another two days like the first two, it will be tough to catch him," Johnson said about English. "But I would say I look forward to being bunched throughout on Sunday coming down the stretch."
This is English's second year on tour after finishing up his college career at Georgia in 2011.
The 6-foot-3 English was still an amateur when he won on the Web.com Tour at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in July 2011, and he moved to the PGA Tour in 2012 and finished 79th on the money list. This year, he already has three top 10s, including his best finish yet with a tie for sixth at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans.
Love has kept track of English for years. English lives in Sea Island, and Love isn't surprised by how well he is playing.
"His game has really improved, and he's playing well and he's not afraid to shoot low scores," Love said.
English opened with a 66 putting himself into the knot of players tied at 4 under atop the leaderboard after the first 18 holes. Teeing off Friday morning, English used his putter to start with three birdies in three holes, rolling in putts from 9, 10 and 17 feet.
Then English had possibly the shot of the day on the par-4 No. 5 playing at 482 yards. After a 3-wood off the tee, he hit an 8-iron 181 yards from the fairway and watched the ball roll at least 10 feet before falling into the cup for eagle.
"I haven't holed out in a while," English said. "To make it on 2, probably the hardest hole on the golf course, is kind of unbelievable."
English dropped a 15-footer on the par-4 15th to become the first player here to reach double-digits under par, and he added a 10-footer on the par-5 16th after hitting his shot from the rough just in front of the green. That birdie put him 11 under.
"I grew up on greens like this down in south Georgia, fast Bermuda greens," English said. "I'm very comfortable on these type of greens. I know when it's going to be fast, and it's really fast. And when into the green, it's really slow. I have a good handle on the speed. That's really what helped me today. When you get the speed down on the greens, you can start making some putts."
English also is very familiar with Tennessee. He played at The Baylor School in Chattanooga, helping win four state titles including an individual high school championship for himself. He even won one of those titles at a course approximately an hour away. He also has friends currently in medical school here in Memphis that he has been visiting with the past couple days.
"It does feel like home," English said.
The only hiccup in English's round came on No. 18. He hit driver only twice Friday and stuck with his 3-wood off the tee only to hit what he called his only bad shot of the day. The ball stopped near a drain. He wound up with a 30-footer and two-putted for his lone bogey.
"I'm still looking for my first win and still hungry to be the best and to try to get my first win," English said.
Notes: Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who made the cut at the Masters, missed the cut. The cut came at 1-over 141, and he went 73-71-144. ... Brandt Snedeker (143) and D.A. Points (148) also missed the cut. Paul Goydos did too, but he did play Friday and shot a 72-145 after fearing he had re-injured his left wrist in the opening round. ... Ian Poulter took off his right sock and rolled his pant leg up to his knee with his ball resting just in the water fronting the par-4 12th green. He pitched the ball onto the green and then pointed at his white shirt, happy that none of the mud that went flying with his stroke hit him. He bogeyed the hole but was at 137.
Easiest hole Toughest hole
The par-5 16th hole was the easiest with a Friday scoring average of 4.708.
Eagles: 1 | Birdies: 65 | Pars: 71 | Bogeys: 12 | Doubles: 5
The par-4 18th hole was the toughest with a Friday scoring average of 4.435.
Birdies: 9 | Pars: 89 | Bogeys: 40 | Doubles: 14 | Others: 2
About the leaders • Making his first start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Harris English played his first five holes, Nos. 1-5, in 5-under (B-B-B-P-E) en route to a 6-under 64. At 10-under, he takes a 2-stroke lead into round three. • This marks the first time in 44 starts on the PGA TOUR for English to hold a lead/co-lead. He has previously been T2 after a round on four occasions. • English is making his 17th start of his sophomore season this week, bringing with him three top-10 finishes. His best and most recent is a T6 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. His career-best finish is a T5 at last year’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. • English improved off the tee from round one to round two. On Thursday, he hit just six of 14 fairways in regulation (42.9 percent). In round two, he found three more, hitting nine (64.3 percent). • PGA TOUR rookie Shawn Stefani’s bogey-free, 5-under 65 in round two is just one of six bogey-free rounds through 36 holes. • At T5, the last time Davis Love III (66-70) headed into the weekend of an event inside the top five was at last year’s McGladrey Classic. He finished T4 in the event he hosts. Love is making his 11th appearance at the FedEx St. Jude Classic with and looking to improve on last year’s T3 finish. • Making his third start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and first since 2009 (T59), World Golf Hall of Fame Member Phil Mickelson followed a 1-over 71 in round one with a 3-under 67 in Friday’s second round. He’ll begin round three eight strokes back at 2-under. Interestingly, Mickelson played the week before each of his four major championship victories. • Defending champion Dustin Johnson followed a 3-under 67 in round one with a 70 in round two. Seven off the pace, he looks to join David Toms (2003-2004) as players to successfully defend their FedEx St. Jude Classic title..