Baylor grad Harris English has fine PGA rookie year

Baylor grad Harris English has fine PGA rookie year

September 27th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Professional

Harris English tees off during the final round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament in Greensboro, N.C., on August 19.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Short shots with Harris English

* Best guy to be paired with: "Matt Kuchar. His demeanor never changes. He's so chill that he makes you want to relax."

* Who is the guy everybody on Tour wants to beat: "Tiger [Woods]. He's the best player in the world. Growing up, I idolized Tiger. If I ended up beating him in a tournament, it's like 'I beat my idol.'"

* Your favorite course: "Pebble Beach."

* Least favorite: "San Antonio."

* Who are the guys you hang out with: "Brian Harman and Brandt Snedeker, Lucas Glover, Johnson Wagner."

* Are you part of the "Sea Island Mafia"? "Yeah, now that I live there. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

Harris English stood wearing shorts and shades behind the 18th green at Black Creek Club last week to watch the final blow McCallie delivered Baylor in the local prep schools' annual match-play golf event.

He would have preferred to be on a green at Atlanta's East Lake course, playing for the PGA Tour championship, but only 30 golfers in the world could do that.

English may play in that event someday, maybe even soon. The Baylor alumnus earned more than $1 million on the PGA Tour this year and is a candidate for rookie of the year.

"Starting out, all you think about is keeping your card," English said. "Then I locked that up at the Colonial and I reset my goals to make the Tour Championship. I gave it my best."

English rocketed from a star prep golfer to a key player on the University of Georgia team and one of the best amateurs in the country. He won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and turned down the prize money to remain an amateur and represent the United States on the 2011 Walker Cup team.

The Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour win gave English instant status when he turned professional. A tie for 13th at PGA Tour Qualifying school gave him status on the big-money tour.

He took advantage.

The money he's earned - $1,062,694, to be exact - guarantees that English will be a member of the PGA Tour again next year and be eligible to play in every PGA Tour event.

"This year has been a whirlwind," he said. "I never thought, after graduating from college, that I could be right on the PGA Tour. It happened really fast, and I had to roll with it."

He tied for eighth at the RBC Heritage, for fifth at the Colonial and for 10th at the Wyndham Championship. He also missed five cuts, and he hit a volunteer on the head with his opening drive in the third round of the Players Championship.

"I played with a mentor of mine in Matt Kuchar; then coming out of the chute I pulled it a little bit, and it unraveled from there," English said. "Everybody can say you need to forget about it, but it shook me up. There was a lot of blood gushing.

"Looking back, it was a good experience and I'll know what to do if that happens again."

English has gained invaluable experience by moving to Georgia's Sea Island, where he can practice with the likes of Snedeker, Kuchar and the godfather of the so-called Sea Island Mafia, Davis Love III, this year's Ryder Cup captain for the United States. He can pick their brains or just hang out as the group's youngest member.

"A lot of those guys have gone through what I'm going through, so I try to surround myself with those guys and learn as much as I can," English said. "Davis Love and I, we've been paddleboarding a couple times. It shows me that golf is not his whole life. He does things to get his mind off golf."

English returned for the Baylor-McCallie football game and to catch up with old friends. He'll return to work Oct. 4 in Las Vegas and play the fall series in hopes of qualifying for first major of 2013.

"I have a couple goals, and one is to play in the Masters and all the majors," English said. "My main goal is to get in contention as much as I can. The best feeling in golf is when you get in the heat of the moment.

"That's the goal for every tournament. Then if I'm in contention a lot, the results will be good."