Former Baylor School golfer Harris English still hoping to play all weekend at Masters

Former Baylor School and University of Georgia golfer Harris English chips to the second green during Thursday's first round of the Masters.
photo Harris English hits to the seventh green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

AUGUSTA, Ga. - As she followed her son from hole to hole during Thursday's opening round of the Masters, Martha English was asked if she had the same amount of nerves as when she walked the famed Augusta National Golf Club two years ago.

"I don't know that they ever left," she said, beginning to smile. "Actually, I do seem to be doing better this time around."

So does her son, Harris English, though his opening 2-over-par 74 didn't reflect it.

The former Baylor School and University of Georgia standout golfer is competing in his second Masters tournament, having missed the cut in 2014 by shooting 74 and 76 for a 6-over 150. English qualified for this year's event by advancing to last season's Tour Championship, where he finished 28th in the FedEx Cup race.

English admits the experience of playing two years ago helped, but only to an extent.

"You play this place in college and you play practice rounds out here, but it's so much different today," he said. "The pin locations. The speed of the greens. The wind. It's so much different and so hard to prepare for."

English's chip on the par-5 second hole enabled him to make a short birdie putt to go 1 under, and he missed a birdie putt on the fourth hole that could have given him an early share of the lead. Bogeys on the fifth and eighth holes resulted in the 26-year-old Sea Island, Ga., resident going out in 37, but he birdied the 10th hole to get back to par.

After bogeying the 11th after a drive that sailed left into the trees, English got to par by birdieing the par-5 15th, only to close with two bogeys in his final three holes.

"I've never played here in this kind of wind before - the direction or the speed," the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder said. "Most of the par-5s were into the wind, so that made it really tough, because those are usually the holes you can try to go after to make an eagle or birdie. I played them at 1 under today, but it was just tough getting the ball close to the hole.

"I felt like I played really good. I just didn't make the 10-footers and the 12-footers, and that's what you've got to do out here. I don't think I could have hit it any better. I just hit it in some bad spots and didn't make any putts."

English, who helped lead Baylor to four state championships and was a four-time All-American at Georgia, is ranked 72nd in the world. He already has more than $9 million in career earnings and two PGA Tour victories, but those who grow up in Georgia dream of doing well in early April.

Playing all four days at the Masters will be a challenge, given that English is eight strokes back of leader Jordan Spieth and in a tie for 43rd place entering today. The top 50 plus ties will advance to the weekend, and English knows he could be cutting things close.

"You can't really look at what the leaders are doing," English said. "I've got to stay in my game. I know this place is going to play hard these next three days, so you've got to stick around par and try and be as patient as possible."

Contact David Paschall at [email protected] or 423-757-6524.