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May 24 2012

8:26 PM

Four wedges paying off for English

Watch: English on his 65

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."

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