"IF YOU LIKE GOLF"
online golf column
September 14, 2011
English earns his PGA Tour card this fall, it will be because he
gave himself the best possible opportunity by maximizing his final
summer as an amateur.
As long as
he can draw back a club, English will recall the summer of 2011.
Where to begin? It started at the U.S. Amateur Public Links in
June, when he reached the semifinals of match play. The next
month, he won the Southern Amateur, then, taking advantage of a
sponsor’s exemption, he went to Columbus, Ohio and won the
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, becoming just the
third amateur in history to win on that tour.
margin of victory was a single stroke, but he shot 14 under par,
opening with a round of 5-under-par 66, matching it a day later
and following that with a 68.
been a professional, he’d have taken home a check for $144,000.
But English’s pro aspirations would have to wait, and in the
meantime, he finished off a productive July by finishing tied for
third in the Porter Cup.
the news English had waited for ever since he was old enough to
realize what it would mean to play for his country. He was chosen
for the Walker Cup team, and though the U.S. side lost two days
ago at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland, the accomplishment of
having made the team, Harris says, “is awesome.
was definitely the best thing I’ve ever done as an amateur. Being
picked among the top 10 players in America was unbelievable. It
was such an honor for me to play with those other nine guys. It
was the pinnacle of my [amateur] career, something I can always
look back on and remember.
definitely good to end on something like that.”
was in Chattanooga on Tuesday, having flown straight from
Scotland, to be a part of the Children’s Hospital Classic media
day at Black Creek and announce his intentions for moving on to
the next level. He’s turned professional and will head to
California and then Texas to play in Nationwide events before
returning to Chattanooga on Oct. 6 for the Children’s Hospital
about every other college player eager to test his game against
professionals but secretly harboring a bit of self-doubt, English
charges into his Nationwide Tour adventure secure in the knowledge
that he already belongs.
to be different playing as a professional instead of not playing
for money as an amateur,” English said. “It’s going to be
something I’ll have to get used to: traveling on my own. Having a
caddy. It’s just going to be different.
glad I was able to find out for myself what [the Nationwide Tour]
is all about. And it’s good to know I can compete with those guys.
Those guys are really good.”
attendance at Tuesday’s festivities was English’s old high school
coach, King Oehmig, who presided over a dynasty—in boys’ and
girls’ golf—at the Baylor School in Chattanooga. Asked to rate
English among all the great players that had passed through his
program, Oehmig had to stop and think for a minute.
clearly between Harris and Luke List,” Oehmig said. “Luke wasn’t
on the Walker Cup team—but should have been—but he played in the
U.S. Open three weeks after he graduated [high school.] It’s a
total toss-up between those two. They’re equally wonderful, great
guys and a real tributes to the game.”
reluctant to forecast English’s fate in the pro game.
“I’ve got to
say I just don’t know,” he said. “That’s not in any way doubting
him. It’s just such a mystery. There have been people I thought
wouldn’t have made it who did, and others I thought for sure would
make it and didn’t.
say this: Harris has the mental toughness, the physical strength,
the moxie and the backing. Just the innate capability to do it.”
will find out in a hurry if he can make the grade. His Nationwide
Tour victory earned him an exemption into the second round of the
PGA Tour’s Qualifying School. In preparation, he’s already moved
to Sea Island, Ga., to be near his swing instructor and some of
the finest comp anywhere.
“A few days
ago I played with Lucas Glover and Zach Johnson,” English said.
“It’s kind of hard not to get better when you’re playing with
those guys, I mean, the Masters champion and U.S. Open champion.
It was an easy decision for me [to move to Sea Island.]”
returns to Black Creek early next month, he’ll be a
battle-hardened pro. He looks forward to showing his friends and
family how far his game has progressed since his days at Baylor.
here in Chattanooga is going to be great,” English said. “I’m
probably going to have a lot of friends and family come out. I
love Black Creek. I played a lot here in high school. I’m just
very excited to be here, see some familiar faces and have fun.”
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