Hudson, Harris have a lot to celebrate in 2020
Childhood friends got careers back on track this year
November 18, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- November 18, 2020
- Hudson Swafford (top left) and Harris English (top right) during their college days at Georgia. (Courtesy of the University of Georgia)
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Harris English and Hudson Swafford remember the first time they met. It’s hard for English to forget the golf ball sailing over his head. Swafford swears he didn’t see the group ahead of him.
The setting was a Southeastern Junior Golf Tour event. English estimates he was 10 years old. Swafford was two years older, and already big for his age.
“I remember my group was walking up the fairway on this shorter par 4 and here comes a ball off the tee that flies over our heads and we look back and they're like, ‘Yeah, that's Hudson Swafford, he smashes it,’” English recalled Tuesday.
The close call didn’t stop them from becoming fast friends, however. They met for the first time after the round.
“We've been close friends ever since,” Swafford said. “We grew up with the same teacher, Bill Connelly at Glen Arven, and then went to Georgia and roomed together and now both on the PGA TOUR together. It's kind of a surreal story.”Harris English (front row, second from left) and Hudson Swafford (front row, middle) pose for a team photo for the 2010-11 University of Georgia golf team. (Courtesy of the University of Georgia)
They were from different states, but their hometowns are only about an hour apart. English grew up in Moultrie, Georgia, while Swafford was just across the state line in Florida’s capital of Tallahassee.
This week, the two St. Simons Island resident, are playing their annual home game, The RSM Classic, after successful seasons. English qualified for East Lake after finishing 149th in last year's FedExCup. He finished fourth at this year’s U.S. Open, one of eight top-10s since the start of the 2020 season. Swafford won the recent Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
English enrolled at the University of Georgia a year after Swafford. As two square-shouldered Southerners standing more than 6 feet tall, many people thought they were siblings. Their similar first names didn’t help. They aren’t related but they were roommates in Athens. After Swafford redshirt his senior season, they both graduated in 2011 with degrees in consumer economics. English earned his PGA TOUR card at the 2011 Q-School while Swafford got Korn Ferry Tour status.
They lived together on St. Simons Island early in their pro careers, sharing a condo that belonged to fellow former Bulldog Chris Kirk. It wasn’t long until they were both on the PGA TOUR. Swafford earned his TOUR card after two seasons on the KFT.
The 2013 Mayakoba Golf Classic was English’s second PGA TOUR victory. He was just 24 years old. It was just the fourth event of Swafford’s rookie season.
Golf careers don’t often follow a linear progression, however. They’re full of peaks and valleys, and neither player has been immune to golf’s frustrating moments.
Hudson Swafford on getting off to a good start in the fall before The RSM Classic
English made the TOUR Championship in 2015 but then his FedExCup ranking fell in each of the following four seasons. He fell outside of the top 100 for the first time in 2017, the same year Swafford won his first PGA TOUR title.
English barely kept his card the following season, finishing 125th in the FedExCup, and then missed the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in 2019. He started the 2020 season with four top-10s in his first five starts, however. “It just came down to him digging deep and not bouncing around and trying to get back to the basics,” Swafford said.
Swafford suffered a rib injury the year after his win. Then, after finishing third in the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii, he broke a bone in his foot. “It knocks you down,” Swafford said. He won the Puntacana in one of the last starts remaining on his medical extension. This has been a difficult year for so many, but English and Swafford have had a lot to celebrate.
“He pushes me,” English said. “I feel like I push him and we have a really good friendship and bond that I feel like we've made each other better for a long time.”