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.
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Brian Harman and Harris English have a lot of shared experiences from their days at the University of Georgia, and both have spent the week near the top of the leaderboard at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
In one aspect, though, they might prefer disassociate from each other. On both days thus far, promising rounds have been spoiled at the final hole.
“You’ve just got to stay so patient out there,” said Harman, two shots behind leader Shawn Stefani’s pace after closing bogeys each day. “I just missed it in a couple of bad spots, and I paid for it.”
The lefty pulled his drive at No.18, then got a bad break when he watched it kick even farther left. He managed to steer his second shot to the front of the green, but three-putted when he left his first attempt 14 feet short.
“That green is just so tough,” he said. “If I got it anywhere past the hole, it’s going to go off the green. It’s almost kind of like a layup, unfortunately, but you’ve just got to take your medicine sometimes.”
English spent much of Thursday in the lead until a double bogey at Innisbrook’s tough 18th hole. One day later, he was one shot back until a bogey at No.9 after finding a fairway bunker.
“This is a tough golf course,” English said. “You have to hit it really straight and make a lot of putts. The pins are real tough out here and if you hit it in the rough, it’s real hard to make par.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Russell Henley, who won last week's Sony Open in Hawaii in his first start as a PGA TOUR member, didn't hesitate when asked who are the other young players he finds impressive.
The 23-year-old's first choice was Rory McIlroy. Tell us someone we don't know, a reporter suggested. So Henley picked his former Georgia teammate, Harris English.
And English, who tied for ninth last week at Waialae, is lending credence to his friend's words during the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He was briefly tied for the lead and now sits in a big group at 4 under, one stroke behind Bobby Gates.
Also tied at 4 under are Jeff Maggert, Jesper Parnevik, Martin Laird, Joey Snyder III, Jason Kokrak, Stephen Ames, Jerry Kelly, Fabian Gomez and Patrick Cantlay. English has played 10 holes on the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West.
Henley is from Macon, Ga. while English grew up in Valdosta. Both graduated from Georgia in 2011 with a degree in consumer economics. Henley won twice on the Web.com Tour last year while English picked up one victory in 2011.
"I've been playing golf against him since I was 11," Henley said. "And he's just very, very impressive physically, obviously hits the ball a long way, and he can shoot low scores. He shot 62 last week on Saturday, finished top 10. He's playing great. Been playing great for a long time now.
"And physically what he can do with the golf ball is probably the most impressive I've seen. And mentally he's always impressed me. His perspective and his competitiveness and his toughness is just very impressive to me. I think that you're going to be seeing a lot of him for a long time.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: A year of firsts for Georgia grad Harris English ended two stops shy of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Now that he's learned the courses and found his comfort zone on TOUR, look for big things from English in 2013.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: English had three top-10 finishes, the best being a tie for fifth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational presented by Colonial, where he opened with a 65. But it was an American-record 60 at British Open qualifying that landed English in his first major championship and he went on tio tie for 54th at Royal Lytham. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: What a great season for the rookie out of Georgia, posting a trio of top-10 finishes. It’s hard to find a weakness in his game. English entered 27 events and made 22 cuts. That is remarkable consistency. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: It was an upset that he wasn't part of the Rookie of the Year conversation in 2012, but he still survived 22 of 27 cuts and posted 10 top 25s, so it wasn't like he didn't enjoy a modicum of success. Owns a lethal combination of power and precision tee to green in addition to a stout scoring average pre-cut and propensity to go low on par 4s. If we're going to be treated to more of the same by the 23-year-old, then sign me up. Salary gamers, don't you dare hesitate at $1.186 million. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Twitter
2012 QUICK REVIEW
|Regular Season ranking
|Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T5||Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 22
Rounds played: 98
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 79th
Driving distance: 20th
Driving accuracy: 125th
Greens in regulation: 27th
Strokes gained-putting: 63rd
Scoring average: 68th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Harris English in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – If PGA TOUR rookie Harris English advances to the BMW Championship in two weeks, he might very well look back on his eagle on the 15th hole in Sunday’s final round of The Barclays as the decisive shot.
English was 2 under for the tournament going into the 15th hole. But with the eagle, he’s now at 4 under and inside the top 10 on the bunched-up Barclays leaderboard.
English entered the week ranked 87th in FedExCup points but is now projected to 52nd after the eagle. He’s safely in next week’s 100-man Deutsche Bank Championship and now projects to be inside the top 70 for the BMW Championship.
Harris English rolled in a putt of 32 feet, 4 inches for birdie at the fifth hole in Friday's second round.
WATCH MORE LONG PUTTS
PGA TOUR rookie Harris English discusses his 5-under 65 with SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Last week, PGA TOUR rookie Harris English took the 4-iron out of his bag and added a fourth wedge. The decision was not an easy one but it made sense.
English had noticed that Rickie Fowler carried four wedges in winning the Wells Fargo Championship a few weeks ago. Then he and his team started looking at the stats and noticed that English was generally low on the list in most wedge-related categories. For example, in approach shots from 50-125 yards, English entered this week ranked 184th on TOUR.
Then they ran the numbers -- the average number of shots during a tournament that English faces over 225 yards versus the average number of shots under 150 yards. Conclusion?
"I had so many shots under 150 that it was kind of a dumb decision to not put another wedge in the bag," said the Georgia native, who graduated from the University of Georgia last year.
The payoff has been immediate. English took medalist honors at the British Open qualifier on Monday at Gleneagles outside of Dallas, setting a course record by shooting 60, then backing it up with a 63 in the 36-hole event. He didn't suffer a bogey in either round.
On Thursday, playing in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial for the first time, he produced a 65 that left him just one stroke off the lead held by Zach Johnson. It was also a bogey-free round – his third of the week, the first time he’s ever strung together three bogey-free rounds.
"This course seems to suit me pretty well," he said.
So do the four wedges. With three wedges, his lofts were 47-, 54- and 60-degrees. Now with four wedges, his lofts are 47-, 51-, 56 and 61-degrees. With smaller gaps, he has more options inside 125 yards. It worked to his advantage early in Thursday's round.
Facing a third shot from 107 yards at the par-5 11th (his second hole), English stuck his wedge shot to 12 feet to set up his first birdie of the day. He finished his front nine with another wedge shot from 125 yards to within 15 feet for another birdie.
"I feel like I'm getting a lot better numbers on my wedges and not having half shots and that makes a big difference," he said. "... It's left me a lot shorter putts."
He added: "You could play more aggressively. That's what it is out here. You can put more spin because the greens are a little more firm than normal than I'm used to in college golf."
Having secured a trip to the British Open earlier this week, English would love nothing more than to secure a two-year TOUR exemption by winning this week. Certainly he has plenty of momentum now.
"I'm enjoying what I'm doing," he said. "It beats sitting at a desk or being in class right now."
PGA TOUR rookie Harris English led the list of eight players who qualified Monday for this year's British Open. He also set a course record in the process.
The qualifier, the only one held in the United States, took place Monday at Gleneagles Country Club in the Dallas suburb of Plano. As in previous years, it comes in between the PGA TOUR's two tournaments in the North Texas area, last week's HP Byron Nelson Championship and this week's Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
English opened the 36-hole qualifier with a course-record 10-under 60 in the first round, with a string of six consecutive birdies at one point. He followed with a bogey-free 63 in the second round for a two-round total of 17 under. That was three shots better than Greg Owen.
Besides English and Owen, the other six qualifiers are Stephen Ames, Andres Romero, Justin Hicks, Bob Estes, Daniel Chopra and James Driscoll.
Another PGA TOUR rookie, Russell Knox, was tied with Estes, Chopra and Driscoll at 9 under but was the odd man out in the four-man playoff.
QUALIFIERS FOR BRITISH OPEN
|Pos||Player||Country||Round 1||Round 2||Score|
|1||Harris English||USA||60||63||17 under|
|2||Greg Owen||England||66||61||13 under|
|T3||Stephen Ames||Canada||69||61||10 under|
|T3||Andres Romero||Argentina||67||63||10 under|
|T3||Justin Hicks||USA||67||63||10 under|
|T6||Bob Estes||USA||66||65||9 under|
|T6||Daniel Chopra||Sweden||64||67||9 under|
|T6||James Driscoll||USA||66||65||9 under|
By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – There’s great competition in the neighborhood this week for Jonathan Byrd.
His St. Simons Island, Ga., neighbors are offering inspiration for Byrd, who is 6 under and two strokes off the halfway lead at THE PLAYERS Championship held by his friend Zach Johnson. Rookie Harris English is one back after Friday’s 67.
The three live less than two miles apart on the tiny island that is 100 miles north of TPC Sawgrass.
“I played with Harris on Tuesday, and he pretty much spanked me up and down the golf course,” Byrd said. “So I knew he was probably going to play well this week, because his game was really sharp. Zach, I don't see why he doesn’t play well every week; he's so solid.
“But it's good to see the names on the board. I love seeing Zach's name up there, a little extra competition and always like seeing my friends do well.”
Byrd’s return to form has been a slow process. His wife, Amanda, gave birth to their third child, daughter Kate Elizabeth, in late March. After tying for 27 th at the Masters, Byrd tied for ninth in his next start at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, a tournament that he lost in a playoff to Lucas Glover in 2011.
“I had three weeks off (after the baby was born),” Byrd said. “Then last week, I didn’t know exactly how I was going to come out and had a really good week I felt like … Of course, that’s definitely some momentum coming in here.”
Keeping up with the next-door neighbors will be the next step.
English shares a “rookie” residence at Sea Island with former University of Georgia teammate Hudson Swafford and Gator Todd, the son of former Alabama and New York Jets quarterback Richard Todd. Swafford and Todd are both Nationwide Tour players, with Swafford winning the Stadion Classic in Athens, Ga., last week thanks to a final-round 62 that included a hole-out from a bunker on the 72 nd hole.
Tuesday’s practice round at TPC Sawgrass was the first time English had played a round with Byrd. Last week at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, English was paired with Johnson in the first group off the tee in the final round, with Johnson shooting 72 to English’s 75.
Johnson, an Iowa native, moved from Orlando, Fla., to St. Simons in 2009 for a quieter lifestyle and to be closer to his coaches and the first-class practice facility at the Sea Island Club, home of The McGladrey Classic in the fall on the PGA TOUR. A number of other players reside there, including Davis Love III and Matt Kuchar, and others visit often to get instruction from the bevy of coaches at the club.
With the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival being held at the same time as this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Wesley Hodges of the Live Music Blog NOLA asked a few TOUR pros some music-related questions this week. What did Hodges find out?
That the best concert Rickie Fowler has ever seen was by Coldplay. That was also the first concert he ever attended. …
That Jason Bohn's rock-star encounter moment came during a round with KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. “The nicest guy," Bohn said. "He just blew me away with his personality, what type of person he is considering the music he plays. It was one of the best times I’ve had playing golf with an amateur.” …
That the first album Harris English ever purchased was N-Sync's No Strings Attached. "I was 9 or 10," English said, "Probably played it on a Walkman or something. I don’t have a record player; have heard of the old 8-track though." …
That Brian Harman is supposed to meet country star Jason Aldeen this fall at a charity event. "I’m excited about that," Harman said. …
That William McGirt knows Darius Rucker. "My agent used to be the road manager for Hootie and the Blowfish," McGirt said. "(Rucker's) not bad -- you’ve gotta watch out for a guy who has two sets of golf clubs, one for the road and one that stays at home." …
That Chez Reavie practices while listening to U2 or Linkin Park. "That kind of genre," Reavie said.