English finally captures spot in finale
September 20, 2015
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- After two frustrating seasons in which he barely missed the top-30, Harris English is headed to the TOUR Championship. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – When Harris English walked into the scorer’s trailer Sunday afternoon at the BMW Championship, he was projected to finish 30th in FedExCup points. His playing partner, Justin Thomas, was projected at 29.
The two then signed their scores, English for a 1-over 72, Thomas for an even-par 71.
When they walked out of the trailer, English had dropped to 31st in points. Thomas was holding steady at 29.
Then as they were listening to an update on their status, Dustin Johnson made one of his four birdies down the stretch. Scott Piercy, also red-hot coming in, also birdied.
That flipped the projections again. English actually moved up to 30th, while Thomas fell to 32nd. And that’s how they stayed.
Thus, in a stretch of less than two minutes, both players’ fates were decided. English would claim the final spot for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, getting all the benefits that come with reaching the FedExCup Playoffs Finale.
Thomas, meanwhile, would not.
“I knew we were both close,” English said. “… It’s crazy how much it can fluctuate like that.”
English should know. In 2013, he finished 31st in points. Last year, he finished 32nd. Not only had he come close both times, but as a Georgia Bulldog who has played East Lake several times, the pain was even more excruciating.
English entered this week 32nd in points, setting up another potential disappointment. But his tie for 19th was enough to make him one of the four bubble-busters on Sunday. It wouldn’t have happened had he not rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th – or had Thomas not found the water with his approach shot, forcing him to scramble just for a par that wasn’t enough.
“You know how important FedExCup points are every year,” English noted. “Even when you’re not playing very well and you finish 55th instead of 50th, it’s a big difference. When it comes down to something like this is what it really rears its head.”
Thomas entered the week 35th in points, so he had to make up more ground than English. Ultimately, that proved to be his undoing.
“Just really upset and disappointed, to be honest,” said Thomas, who entered the week at 35th in points and had to make up more ground than English. “It’s unfortunate.”
Joining English as the bubble busters were Daniel Berger, who moved from 46 to 9 thanks to his solo second; Scott Piercy, who moved from 44 to 20 with his solo third; and Kevin Na, who moved from 34 to 27 with a tie for 10th.
Dropping outside the bubble were Daniel Summerhays, Russell Knox, Ben Martin and Jason Bohn.
Meanwhile, there were no changes to the top five in points. Jason Day (1), Jordan Spieth (2), Rickie Fowler (3), Henrik Stenson (4) and Bubba Watson (5) will control their own fates at East Lake.
Na had to make a 10-footer to save par on the final hole. He knew that his Playoff hopes were riding on it.
“I hit it right where I wanted to,” Na said. “Halfway there, I just said, don’t hit anything and bounce off-line. It was a relief to see that one go in.”
The bubble boy coming into this week, Louis Oosthuizen, was teetering on the edge of disaster halfway through Sunday’s round. He went out in 1-over 36, including a double bogey at the par-3 sixth, and was projected out of the Playoffs.
But he rallied with four birdies in a five-hole stretch after the turn to finish just ahead of English in the 29th spot.
“I was out of it completely after six holes,” Oosthuizen said, “and fought back nicely to have a chance.”
Piercy, who played in the final group with runaway winner Jason Day, shot a 1-under 70 that included four birdies in his final five holes. He didn’t need to make the last birdie putt at the 18th, but it was a nice way to end the round and gain some momentum for East Lake.
And that’s why his third-place finish felt so much more than that. “I won today getting to the TOUR Championship,” Piercy said.
Harris English finishes with clutch birdie on the 72nd hole at BMW Championship