English looks to cement comeback with win at Mayakoba
Leads going into Sunday, but 36 holes remain at El Camaleón Golf Club
November 16, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Harris English interview after Round 2 of Mayakoba
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – A sun-splashed Saturday provided a second straight day of golf at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Now the challenge is how to finish it.
Players will go off in threesomes and won’t be re-grouped after the third round in an attempt to play as many holes as possible at the rain-delayed tournament at El Camaleón Golf Club on Sunday. If necessary, play will resume at 7:30 a.m. ET Monday.
The leader is Harris English, who won the 2014 Mayakoba Golf Classic. He knows what it takes. Then again, it’s been a while. He hasn’t won since.
“It’s been a lot of ball-striking,” English said of his resurgence after a second-round 64 moved him to 13 under and one ahead of Vaughn Taylor (66). “Starting at the Greenbrier this year, I think I was top-10 in greens in regulation and that’s been a huge stat.
“That’s what I did really well my first couple years on Tour,” he added, “and haven’t done so well in that the past couple seasons. But really worked with my coach, Justin Parsons, back home in Sea Island and really just doing what I did back in college and my first couple years on Tour.”
Last season English was 147th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green; this season he’s 21st.
A four-time All-American at Georgia, English as an amateur won on the Korn Ferry Tour, turned pro in 2011 and then won twice on the PGA TOUR. So it was a surprise when his late 20s turned into a slog. His average finish in the FedExCup the last three seasons has been 131. He fell out of the top 200 in the world, and needed to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Now, though, he’s back. He’s already posted three top-10 finishes in four starts this season.
As always, Mayakoba has rewarded good ball-striking, and penalized wayward tee shots.
The cut came with 82 players at 1-under 141 from a field of 131 professionals and one amateur. Rounds three and four will feature threesomes off tee Nos. 1 and 10 Sunday.
English hopes to carry his early-season momentum to his third career TOUR win.
“I think I missed two greens today,” he said after chipping in for birdie on his last hole, the 18th. “And if you do that every day out here, you're going to take it deep.”
Brendon Todd (68, 11 under, two back) is trying to win for the second time in as many starts after capturing the recent Bermuda Championship.
Danny Lee (70), Adam Long (69) and Robby Shelton (66) are 10 under and three back.
“I’m ready to keep going and go to one (tee) right now and start it up,” said Long, who birdied five of his last six holes and is aiming for his first win since The American Express last season.
Although five of the top six players on the leaderboard are Americans, the crowd favorites have emerged with the golfing Ortiz brothers of Guadalajara. They are two of seven players representing Mexico in the field, and they are both playing well.
Alvaro Ortiz, the Latin America Amateur winner who nearly won Low Amateur honors at The Masters Tournament and turned 24 yesterday, shot 67 to reach 9 under, just four off the lead.
Big brother Carlos, 28, surged with a 65 to reach 8 under, five back.
“We actually never played in a competitive tournament together,” Carlos said, “especially because of the age gap.”
This has necessitated a delicate balancing act for their proud parents.
“My dad was following my brother on the front nine,” Alvaro said. “I saw him on 17 and then he walked the back nine with me. Then my mom walked the front nine with me and walked the back nine with Carlos. It alternates, so it was nice that my brother was just two groups ahead of me and they can see both of us.”
It’s a logistical challenge, but after copious rain scuttled the entire first round without a shot being hit Thursday, you could say the same for simply finishing the tournament.