English ready for Masters debut

English ready for Masters debut

April 10th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Harris English hits out of a bunker on the second green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Tuesday, April 8, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Former Baylor School golfer Harris English has played Augusta National a few times.

But he's never played in the Masters. That changes this afternoon.

The former University of Georgia star will get his first chance to play in front of patrons today when he tees off in the last group of the day with former UGA teammate Russell Henley and England's Lee Westwood.

"It's really cool," English said. "It will be good for the Georgia people. A lot of Dawg fans are out here.

"Obviously I played with [Henley] a good bit. Couldn't be happier playing last off."

English has won two PGA Tour events in the last year and has elevated to No. 36 in the world. He won the John Deere Classic last June and the Mayakoba Classic this season in November.

"I really like Harris' game," ESPN analyst Andy North said. "I think he is a true star in the making. He hits it really long and he's made himself into a good putter."

English hit a perfect shot on Sunday. He aced No. 12 with a pitching wedge while playing with Graeme McDowell.

That's a good way to start a memorable week.

"I feel like I've done a lot of preparation," English said. "I'll just go out and have a good time and soak it all in and try to climb up that leaderboard and get some stuff going."

Drive, Chip & Putt to expand

After an overwhelmingly successful first Drive, Chip and Putt national championship, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne said Wednesday that the Masters Foundation, the USGA and PGA of America will expand the competition next year.

"When you celebrate a success, everybody gets a high-five, and then ask you know, 'what can we do next?'" Payne said. "I think we would view this as a beginning and try to get it better than it was."

Payne said there will be more than 250 qualifying venues, which he expect to allow more than 50,000 kids to compete.

"At some point and time, perhaps, it would be time to see if it fits in internationally," Payne said. "We would, of course when we get to that point, look to all of our allies and friends to do that."

Cleveland Middle School golfer Rheagan Hall, as one of 88 kids who participated on Sunday at Augusta National, placed sixth in her division.

Moore wins Par-3 Contest

Ryan Moore won the annual Par-3 contest by shooting a 6-under 21 on Wednesday afternoon.

Kevin Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller tied for second at 4 under.

"This will look nice in the house," Moore said while holding the crystal trophy.

No player has ever won the Par-3 contest and the Masters in the same year since the fun-filled Wednesday tournament began in 1960.

"You never know, someone has got to break the curse at some point in time, so hopefully it's me," Moore said. "It was fun having my boy out there playing around. That's what it's for, to kind of make you relax a little bit and just go enjoy yourself."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.