Harris English fulfilling his promise after difficult years

Harris English fulfilling his promise after difficult years
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NORTON, Mass. – When the day brings pulsating warmth and the environment is enveloped in solitude – as it was Thursday at TPC Boston – the golf course provides the perfect venue to walk and watch, to study and savor.

So, a march was made to watch the golf in the opening round of THE NORTHERN TRUST, the opener to the FedExCup Playoffs. Different vantage points at first, just to ease in, but at the sight of Harris English’s brilliant eagle at the par-5 second (your basic 97-yard hole-out) and 12-foot birdie at the par-3 third, the decision was made to keep along for a bit more of the ride.

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He is easy to watch, easier to like, this young man from Georgia with the gentle saunter. Only what came immediately to mind was not his victories in the 2013 and 2014 seasons that helped establish English’s career, but an old joke someone told about a PGA TOUR veteran who constantly sought out swing coaches.

“You know that list of America’s top 100 instructors,” the joke went. “Well (so and so) has worked with all of them.”

About now, English birdied the par-4 fourth to sit 4 under through four holes and while he didn’t maintain that torrid pace, his eventual 7-under 64 was near flawless. It was also miles from where he had spent the past three seasons, his scores high and his joy low, to the point where he came to chase answers from a bevy of teachers, much like the story of the veteran mentioned to me.

To English’s credit, he concedes to ill-advised pursuits.

“Yeah, over the years I would say I had searched a little bit too much, too much finding the new guy, the hot guy,” he said. “I’ve definitely gotten away from that.”

Instead, he settled on a guy right there in his backyard of St. Simons Island, Georgia, a teaching pro named Justin Parsons who’d given lessons on multiple continents before arriving at Sea Island Resort. Together, they agreed that Harris English had to return to being Harris English, which, truth be told, is a pretty stout goal given what this man had proven capable of.

He had a decorated career at the University of Georgia, which included a win on the Korn Ferry Tour while he was still an amateur. English got his PGA TOUR card shortly after playing in the 2011 Walker Cup with Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Russell Henley and a handful more future TOUR players.

As a TOUR rookie in 2012, English finished 79th in the FedExCup standings, with three top-10s and only five missed cuts in 27 starts. His two wins both came in the same calendar year (2013) but were divided between his second (FedEx St. Jude Classic) and third (OHL Classic at Mayakoba) seasons. English was a bubble boy in both campaigns – finishing 31st and 32nd in the FedExCup, just missing out on the TOUR Championship.

So, in 2015 when he made the elite 30-man field for East Lake Golf Club, you can appreciate how English thought it was the start of something special. He had knocked on the door of the TOUR Championship and finally kicked it in at age 26.

Easy, right? The first of many, eh?

English smiled. He was 26 then and if that’s what he was thinking he doesn’t need to apologize. Now, at 31, he will tell you it’s the beauty of the game he has chosen for his livelihood.

“That’s what makes this game so much fun,” he said. “It’s a battle year after year. You have to play for your job every single year. It’s not like these other sports where you’re guaranteed four or five years.

“We’re playing against the best players (and) you see young guys coming up every single year trying to take our jobs.”

Source: PGA tour

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