Harris English is making his first start since winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Rose isn’t resting after his victory at last week’s U.S. Open. He’ll be back in competition Thursday at the Travelers Championship. He’s not the only one who is at TPC River Highlands after having success at Merion. Those who played last week will have to switch strategies rather quickly, though. Merion was one of the toughest tests of the year. Players have to go low to win at TPC River Highlands, though. Here are some of the groups PGATOUR.COM is keeping an eye on. Let us know your favorite groups in the Comments section below.
· Justin Rose-Keegan Bradley-Zach Johnson: The game’s newest major champion will play with two fellow major winners. The Travelers Championship also is an opportunity for Bradley to return to his native New England. They tee off of TPC River Highlands’ first tee at 12:50 p.m. Thursday.
· Marc Leishman-Jason Dufner-Bubba Watson: Two Travelers Championship winners are joined with Dufner, who’s coming off a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open. Leishman won last year’s Travelers Championship, while Watson won in 2010 and was runner-up last year. They tee off at 1:00 p.m. Thursday off TPC River Highland’s first tee.
· Harris English-Rickie Fowler-Hunter Mahan: Two of the game’s young talents are paired with a two-time Travelers winner. English, 23, is making his first appearance since winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Fowler, 24, finished 10th at last week’s U.S. Open. Mahan’s first professional victory came at the 2007 Travelers Championship. The 31-year-old finished fourth at the U.S. Open, his best showing in a major championship. They tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday off the 10th tee.
· Kevin Streelman-Webb Simpson-Lee Westwood: Streelman, No. 7 in the FedExCup standings, is joined by last year’s U.S. Open champion and the world’s 12th-ranked player. They tee off at 7:50 a.m. Thursday on TPC River Highlands' 10th hole.
Harris English's wide backswing is a key for his success. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Memphis, Tenn., and specifically TPC Southwind, became the Dawg Pound as Georgia Bulldog Harris English notched his maiden PGA TOUR victory by two strokes from the chasing pack.
English, a TOUR Sophomore, withstood a final-round charge from two seasoned campaigners in Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings. He performed with a maturity and poise well beyond his 23 years and carded a 3-under 32 on the back, including two birdies in his last three holes, for a final round of 69.
English hit a selection of very solid and well-controlled shots over the final hour or so to give himself a few stress-free and certainly viable opportunities for birdies over the tough closing stretch of holes. He did so by unleashing, what in my opinion is, a golf swing that does not get the credit it deserves. English swings the club with power, poise, control and balance and his action is as fundamentally sound as any in the game right now. There are so many elements to his swing that are worth emulating, but one I feel is especially important is the overall width of his swing arc.
Harris makes a beautifully wide backswing and an equally wide down-and-throughswing which allows him extra time to unload maximum energy into and through the ball. It also makes it much easier for him to square up the clubface through impact which in turn results in more powerful and consistent shots. This is a very important principle of the swing to remember: generally, the narrower the radius of the arc is, the more hand and forearm action is required to present the clubface consistently squarely through impact. Conversely and more often than not, the wider the arc of the swing is the less compensation and manipulation is necessary to square the face.
A simple drill: A few elements have an influence on the width of the swing arc, but probably the most influential is the hinging of the elbows on either side of the swing. For right-handers, the back-and-downswing width is largely controlled by the hinge of the right elbow and the throughswing width is controlled by the hinge of the left elbow.
By way of explanation, the more your elbows hinge the narrower the swing arc will be and the less they hinge the wider the arc will be. In my opinion and in an ideal world, at the top of the backswing the trail elbow would be located to the right of the right side and slightly lower than its shoulder, while being hinged to about 90 degrees.
So, if you feel that your backswing could use a little extra width, and I am sure it could, strive to keep your right elbow to the right of your right hip as you ensure that it hinges less than 90 degrees at the top of the swing. If you really want to get a feeling for what less elbow hinge feels like, use a swimming arm-band floatie and inflate one of its sides. Put it on your trail arm so that the inflated panel is sitting over the fold in the elbow. Then make a backswing and you will feel how the floatie will not allow the elbow to hinge too much as it retains a 90-degree shape between the forearm and the bicep. Once you have rehearsed the wider swing and got used the feel of it you can go ahead and hit shots with the floatie still on your arm. You will be surprised at how easy it is to return the clubface consistently to the ball – just like English.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
Harris English's ability to hit a knockdown shot helped him to a victory. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
I have a feeling this is going to be the first of many PGA TOUR wins for Harris English. The Georgia graduate had already posted three top-10s in 2013, including a tie for sixth at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans a little over a month ago.
As Harris reflects back on a great week in Memphis, and the invitation to the 2014 Masters that comes with his first win, no shot will stand out more than the knockdown he hit on the 71st hole, setting up a huge 17-foot birdie putt that put him on top to stay. This knockdown shot is a go-to shot for many TOUR players, when they really need to control their ball flight and keep the spin down.
So many times during lessons, I will encourage students to learn the knockdown shot. One of the reasons why is that so many amateurs scoop the trail wrist at impact, which causes the clubshaft to lean away from the target. This adds loft to the clubface, increasing the initial launch angle and robbing the players the distance they should be getting. What’s interesting is that when amateurs learn how to hit a knockdown, they often feel as if their arm swing gets shorter; yet, they hit it farther because of the improvement in the launch conditions at impact.
Here are a few tips to help you hit the knockdown, and improve your impact position in the process.
1. Shorten your arm swing: When hitting a knockdown shot, swing your hands to about shoulder-height on the backswing and follow-through. This abbreviated motion will not only make your backswing more compact, but also encourage a more delofted clubface through impact as a result of the lower finish.
2. Focus on two rights: On the downswing, feel as if your right elbow moves in toward your right hip. Don’t allow the right elbow to move away from your body, but rather keep it in front of your hip at the delivery position. As this happens, it’s a must that your right wrist stays bent. Maintaining this right wrist angle position through impact keeps the shaft leaning forward, which allows the clubhead to work down into the ground. Thus, no scooping!
3. Turn the knuckles down: If the right wrist remains bent through impact, as it should, then you must use your left hand to square the clubface. To do this, rotate your left forearm and hand down so that the back of your hand faces the target at impact. The hand should then continue to swivel down so that the knuckles face the ground shortly after impact. Turn the knuckles down and you should hit the ball on a much better trajectory.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
Harris English was nervous near the end of his round, and said he benefitted from it. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Do you have difficulties staying focused on the course?
Harris English, winner of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, might have a solution for you. Harris stated that he loves the pressure and thrives on the nerves. Also, he mentioned that intense pressure gives him a more laser-like focus. His butterflies actually make him concentrate better.
English is hitting upon an important psychological principle related to concentration: our ability to concentrate is modified by our intensity level. Think of your concentration like a searchlight. When you are not motivated, not warmed-up, not interested (i.e., your intensity level is very low), your searchlight will be bouncing all over the place. In other words, when you have low intensity levels, your focus will bounce around the course and you will have a difficult time staying focused on the shot at hand.
However, if you are very motivated, very interested, and the pressure is on (i.e., your intensity level is high), your searchlight becomes like one beam of light focusing intensely on its target. Your focus becomes like a laser. This is what Harris English was alluding to concerning his comments about focusing better under pressure.
If you are having difficulty concentrating on the course, then it might be a function of your intensity level being too low. Here are a few suggestions to give your intensity level a good pump:
1. When I work with players who feel flat, I tell them to think of their thigh like a pump, and slap it, not hard, but in a way that when you hit it, you imagine yourself pumping up your intensity level. You could do this before every shot in your routine, and/or every time you feel your mind wandering.
2. Use some pump-up words. Another useful technique is to use some key self-statements that will get you pumped up quickly, such as, “Find the fire” or “It’s go time.” Find some key words for you that resonate and you will feel the pump!
3. Key images can get you pumped up as well. Recall an image from a moment in your past that got you fired up. This image will work great to spark your fire on the course.
Pump yourself up with the right intensity level and you will light up your focus.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the
TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor
of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA
TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is
the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for
Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
Harris English, 23, made two late birdies to capture his first PGA TOUR victory on Sunday.
By Don Wade, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Harris English successfully avoided the back-nine danger that lurks at TPC Southwind, and poured in two birdies in his final three holes to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday for his first career PGA TOUR victory.
English overtook Scott Stallings on the back nine, draining a 17-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take the lead for good en route to picking up 500 FedExCup points for the victory. It was the former University of Georgia star’s fourth top 10 this season. He shot a 1-under 69 and finished at 12-under 268, two strokes ahead of Stallings and a late-charging Phil Mickelson.
“Harris played great coming down the stretch,” Stallings said.
Stallings’ double-bogey 6 on No. 15 essentially ended his hopes for the victory.
“I gave myself a lot of opportunities,” Stallings said, taking the positive outlook.
English, 23, recovered nicely from a shaky front nine on Sunday that featured four bogeys and just two birdies.
“I was feeling good about my ball-striking and just had to get those putts to fall,” English said.
Rookie Shawn Stefani started the day at 12 under and with a one-stroke lead over English. But Stefani played his way out of contention with three straight bogeys on Nos. 8-10 and ended with a 76 for a tie for seventh place.
After little to no wind for much of the tournament, the wind picked up on Sunday and restored TPC Southwind to its usual self.
“I was happy for the wind, thought it would keep the scores higher,” said Ryan Palmer, who shot a 3-under 67 to finish fourth at 9 under. “(The wind) was tricky, swirled out there a little bit.”
Defending champ Dustin Johnson shot even par in the fourth round and finished at 5 under, tied for 10th place.
The round of the day belonged to Gary Woodland, who fired a 6-under 64. He tied for 18th and has made the cut in nine straight events.
Mickelson finished with a 67, nearly holing out his approach on the 18th hole. He made birdie to share second with Stallings.
Harris English made two late birdies en route to winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday for his first PGA TOUR victory.
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Harris English matched his lowest round of the season on Friday, a 64, and with it took the lead into the weekend at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
The last time English went that low was in the opening round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He went on to finish in a tie for 17th that week.
Now the second-year player is looking to take it to another level as he tries for his first career win.
English had five birdies, a hole-out from the fairway for eagle and just one bogey en route to taking a two-stroke lead over Shawn Stefani, who shot 65 Friday.
"I'm still getting comfortable out here," English said. "Just trying to get in the hunt of a golf tournament every time. I've worked very hard the last couple weeks and couple months to get in this position."
Paul Haley II and Scott Stallings are tied for third but are five shots off the lead.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since withdrawing from THE PLAYERS Championship with a bad back, is also in contention at 3 under halfway through the event.
David Toms was the last player to repeat in Memphis. He's a stroke back of Johnson.
So is Phil Mickelson, who was four shots better than his opening round with a 67 Friday.
"I let a number of shots slide (Thursday)," Mickelson said. "I made a couple of dumb mistakes, and I think that's why I enjoy the competing element before a big event like the U.S. Open next week.
"And I'm not selling myself out this week. I feel like if I play better (Saturday) than I did today, I've got a low round in me."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Harris English is in just his second year on the PGA TOUR. After a 64 Friday, he'll enter the weekend at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in position to chase his first win.
"I'm still getting comfortable out here," the 23-year-old University of Georgia alum said. "Just trying to get in the hunt of a golf tournament every time."
So far, so good.
English has three top 10s this season and Friday he had five birdies, an eagle and justone bogey.
The eagle came on the par-4 fifth, where English holed out from 175 yards.
"I was playing a little short of it because that green goes front to back pretty good down grain," he said. "It landed about 10, 12 feet short and kicked right and rolled right in."
At one point, it looked like English might have a big lead, getting to 11 under for the week after two more birdies on the back nine. But he bogeyed the 18th, and it was still early in the second round.
"When I get in that kind of situation, everything is pretty much going my way and I'm very much in control of my ball," English said. "I'm really trying to birdie every hole."
Harris English rebounded from a tough start with a back-nine 30 at TPC San Antonio. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- It’s not quite the rags-to-riches story that John Huh crafted here last year when he rallied from a first nine of 44 with an inward 33 in the opening round of the Valero Texas Open, but Harris English’s 30 on Thursday is a course-record back nine at AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
English rebounded after an opening nine of 38, giving him a 68 that puts him in a tie for second, one shot back of co-leaders Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo heading into the second round of what is becoming a lively VTO.
“It was playing pretty tough on the front nine,” English said. “(But) I was hitting it well and putting it well.”
English, who became the third amateur to win an event on the Web.com Tour when he took the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational two years ago, knew “stuff’s going to start happening” after the front.
“I made a good 12-to-15 footer on No. 10, and it just started going in every time,” he said.
By the time he made it to 17, English was 4-under on the back. A few players have been tickling the front edge of the green on the 334-yard, downwind hole. So English, 31st in driving distance this year, launched one down there.
“I hit a really good one,” English said, understating.
He smashed it 344 yards, driving it about 26 feet past the cup. He made the putt coming back for eagle to go 6-under.
English, 23, can rock and roll at times. He shot a third-round 62 to get into the top-10 when former Georgia teammate Russell Henley won at the Sony Hawaii in Open. But his best finish this year is a tie for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank on another tough course at Innisbrook.
“Even though I got off to a bad start, I knew that I was playing well and I knew if I had some stuff go well I could turn it into a good round, and that’s what happened,” he said.