Baylor grad basks in pro tourney win

Baylor grad basks in pro tourney win

July 29th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Professional

Harris English goes through his stretch routine prior to his tee shot on the 9th hole during the final round of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational golf tournament at the Ohio State Scarlet Course.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

University of Georgia golf coach Chris Haack planned on running a few errands and accomplishing a few tasks around the house before watching an evening recap of the Nationwide Tour tournament in Columbus, Ohio, without knowing the result.

But his phone kept beeping, ringing and dinging before the delayed telecast on the Golf Channel.

That alone told him that recent UGA grad and former Baylor School star Harris English became the third amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.

So Haack changed his plans. He replied to a few messages and ran one errand.

"I drove over to the dollar movie theater and I got a big bowl of popcorn," Haack said. "They have the best popcorn in town. A guy asked for my ticket stub and I told him I only wanted popcorn. So I went home and watched it all play out."

Haack watched English roll in a 10-foot putt to beat fellow amateur John Peterson, the NCAA champion from LSU, by one stroke as well as former Chattanooga Classic champion Kyle Reifers, who collected the first-place prize money.

English became the third amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event. Former UGA roommate Russell Henley won the Stadion Classic earlier this year, and Daniel Summerhays also won in Columbus as an amateur in 2007.

"It was a heck of a week," said English, who was a Baylor boarding student. "There have been a lot of text messages, a lot of Facebook messages, and I get a lot of support from Chattanooga folks. I had former teachers, friends and coaches all wishing me the best.

"I consider Chattanooga my home."

English, who as an amateur had to pass on the $144,000 check awarded to Reifers, may make his professional debut in Chattanooga.

With the NWT victory, he has 60 days to decide to join the tour and receive full status for next year. But before he makes that decision, English has a few amateur events to complete, such as the ongoing Porter Cup -- he is tied for 35th at even-par 140 after two rounds at Niagara Falls, N.Y., where Baylor alumnus Stephan Jaeger of UTC is tied for 65th at 144 -- and then the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup, which wraps up 50 days from his win in Columbus.

Should English reach the final match of the U.S. Amateur, he can play in the Masters next April if he remains an amateur.

The timing works out that he could make his professional debut at the Children's Hospital Classic in Chattanooga Oct. 6-9 on the same course where he practiced almost every day as a high school golfer -- Black Creek Club.

"It's all something I'll decide in mid-September," said English, who would also be eligible to be a pro in the Boise Open if he takes that route. "I don't know if I want Chattanooga to be my first pro tournament or if I'll want a warm-up."

English has fond memories of Black Creek. He won dozens of matches there while playing for Baylor.

"It's hard to pass up full status on the Nationwide Tour," English said of the option he has as a tournament winner. "I've also wanted to play in the Masters my whole life. That would be hard to pass up."