MEMPHIS — Harris English shot a 5-under-par 65 on Friday at TPC Southwind to hold on to his two-stroke lead in the FedEx St. Jude Invitational as he seeks his fifth PGA Tour career victory — including his third of 2021 — and his first in a World Golf Championship tournament.
"This game is all about confidence, and if you have confidence on your side, you just run with it," he said. "In years past, a (bad shot) would send me into a downward spiral. Now I'm enjoying the grind of it."
The 32-year-old former Baylor School and University of Georgia golfer was 13-under 127 through 36 holes as he withstood strong challenges from Mexico's Abraham Ancer and Australia's Cameron Smith, who each shot a 62 — the score English opened with Thursday to match his lowest round on the PGA Tour. Smith's big day required only 18 putts, tying a PGA Tour record for fewest in a round, and Ancer posted his 14th bogey-free round of the season, the tour's best in 2020-21.
"I've been playing really solid," English said. "When I miss the greens, I feel like my short game has been on point. And I feel like I'm putting it well. I made some good saves for par, (I made) some good birdies putts. Everything is clicking right now."
Sam Burns (64), Scottie Scheffler (65) and England's Ian Poulter (66) were tied for fourth at 10 under, with Bryson DeChambeau (66) and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (64) another stroke back.
In a 66-man field missing No. 1 Jon Rahm but featuring 48 of the top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking, No. 14 English more than held his own for the second straight day. He had three birdies through his first nine holes after starting on the back nine, and then after stumbling with a bogey on No. 2, he rebounded with an eagle on the par-5 No. 3 hole and added another birdie on No. 8 before closing with a par.
Said English: "I feel like I just really shook off that bogey well and kept on going."
A relatively wind-free day produced an abundance of low scores. Of the top 37 on the leaderboard, 34 shot 69 or better.
"You've got to keep the gas pedal down," he said. "The scores are pretty low right now, and you can't let up."
Smith said he wasn't aware of how few putts he had taken until he "was adding them up" as he walked down the 17th fairway: "I said, 'That can't be right.' It was just a good day on the greens. The surfaces here are so good."
Smith needed only seven putts through the first nine holes, helped in part by an eagle on the par-5 third hole. On the back nine, he rolled in birdies on Nos. 12, 14 and 16 — all inside 25 feet — and nearly added a birdie on 18, sliding his 22-foot putt just left of the cup but then making par to finish a bogey-free round.
Jaeger stays in top 20
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Emiliano Grillo had an early eagle in a 17-point round Friday to take the second-round lead in the Barracuda Championship, the only PGA Tour event that uses the modified Stableford scoring system.
Grillo had a 29-point total on Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Course, Adam Schenk was two points back after a 19-point day that included an eagle, which is worth five points, and first-round leader Joel Dahmen was another point back after a 10-point round.
Former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer Stephan Jaeger, who was second after a 14-point first round that included two eagles, dropped into a tie 17th at 17 points overall.