Two sponsor exemptions lead The Honda Classic
February 27, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Harris English holes 78-foot chip for birdie at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Harris English and Tom Lewis are taking advantage of an opportunity at The Honda Classic.
Both players were given sponsor exemptions into this week’s field. They’re leading after shooting 66 on Thursday.
Lewis won last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship to earn his first PGA TOUR card. The Englishman, who also plays the European Tour, has made just five PGA TOUR starts this season. He’s missed the cut in all of them. He’s now at the bottom of the Korn Ferry Tour graduates category after a recent reshuffle. That’s why he needed an invitation into this week’s field.
English is in the midst of a career resurgence, but that can’t undo the fact that he started the season with conditional status after finishing 149th in the FedExCup. Thanks to four finishes of sixth or better, he’s 30th in this season’s standings, but he still can’t pick his schedule.
“I played the Monday pro-am, did a clinic on Tuesday, so I've felt like I've really been a part of the tournament this week, and it's been awesome,” English said. “I feel really good about my round today. I didn't hit it my best, but I knew it was going to be one of those rounds you're going to have to grind it out. It's windy out there, you're going to have a lot of cross-winds, and it played really tough. My short game was on point, and I made some really good putts.”
Matthew Wolff is the last player to win while playing on a sponsor exemption. He parlayed an invitation into a win at last year’s 3M Open. Since 2010, only four players – Wolff, Billy Hurley III, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood -- have won while playing on a sponsor exemption.
Hurley did it at the 2016 Quicken Loans National. Harrington did it five years ago at this event. And Westwood did it at the 2010 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
He has a chance to do it a second time. He’s just one shot off the lead after shooting 67 on Thursday.