Hey Jude! English Garners First PGA Tour Win
On Sunday, former Bulldog English claimed his first PGA TOUR victory in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn. Rising junior Reach on Saturday won the Palmetto Amateur.
• English's win was documented by The Associated Press:
The support of a handful of old high school buddies, the calming influence of a veteran caddie and timely putting were exactly what Harris English needed to pull out his first PGA Tour victory.
English won the St. Jude Classic on Sunday, birdieing two of the final three holes to hold off Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings by two strokes.
"I had probably 10 high school friends out there today," English said. "And I know that if I make a birdie or a bogey, they're probably going to be the same and they're rooting me on. I was just really relaxed out there today. Bogeyed eight and nine, which was tough. But I knew if I kept it together on the back nine, I could make a run at the thing."
The 23-year-old former Georgia star in his second year on tour survived a final round where he had six birdies and five bogeys. He finished with a 1-under 69 for a 12-under 268 total to get the victory in the same state where he helped Baylor in Chattanooga win four Tennessee high school golf titles.
English said caddie Brian Smith also helped him refocus as he made the turn.
"I really didn't think I'd be in this seat right here coming off 9," English said. "I thought I kind of made some really dumb bogeys on eight, nine and kind of shot myself out of the tournament. But Smitty was saying, 'Hey let's go beat this back nine. Let's get back under par for the tournament for the day, and let's get after it.' So it was almost pedal to the metal."
English got four of his birdies on the back nine and saw on No. 14 that he was the lead at 10 under. He made a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to tie Stallings for the lead, but Stallings bogeyed No. 18 to give English the lead to himself. English made a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 17, and overcame shaking hands as he two-putted No. 18 to pick up the winner's check of $1,026,000.
"It's quite an unbelievable feeling," English said.
English became the fourth player to win the event in his first start since the tournament moved to TPC Southwind in 1989 and the second straight after Dustin Johnson a year ago.
English won the Southern Amateur in 2011 and was an amateur when he won on the Web.com Tour at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in July 2011. He moved to the PGA Tour in 2012 and finished 79th on the money list. Now he has his fourth top 10 this year and a precious invitation to the Masters for the Georgia native.
• And the Aiken Standard was there for Reach's win:
Saturday was all about second chances for Nicholas Reach in the final round of the Palmetto Amateur at Palmetto Golf Club.
The rising junior at the University of Georgia won the event, shortened to 54 holes because of heavy rains Thursday night and early Friday, on the second playoff hole against Scott Strohmeyer. Reach lost the 2011 Palmetto Amateur on the first playoff hole against Will McCurdy.
Reach said that winning a tournament in which he had previously come up short added to his satisfaction.
“It means a ton,” he said. “I think that means more to me than if I were to win it as my first time.”
Reach had a chance to all but seal the tournament in regulation. With Strohmeyer waiting on the 18th tee after bogeying No. 17 to drop to 4-under, Reach had a birdie putt of roughly 15 feet that would’ve pushed him to 6-under and a two-stroke lead.
He missed the putt and tapped in for par, which opened the door for Strohmeyer to force the playoff. The University of Alabama product did so by hitting his drive into the way to the greenside bunker before hitting his second shot to within a foot of the cup for a tap-in birdie.
“I was aware that I needed a birdie to probably get into the playoff, and I’ve struggled out of bunkers for the last 2 1/2 weeks,” Strohmeyer said. “So to be able to hit it (to), I guess, a foot was really nice.”
Reach finished the final round with a 68 in regulation, and Strohmeyer carded a 69.
That sent the duo to the 16th hole, a 212-yard par 3, for the first hole of their playoff. Reach said that his mindset changed for how he planned to play the holes for the playoff.
“It’s just a match-play thing,” he said. “I was just trying to hit in on the green on 16, middle of the green, and just make 3. If he makes 2, then he wins.”
Reach didn’t make the middle of the green, leaving his tee shot short, but Strohmeyer was even farther over the mark. Reach was still short on his second shot, and Strohmeyer had a lengthy par putt as well. Both missed but made their bogey putts to move to the 17th hole, a 388-yard par 4.
Each player made the green in regulation, but Strohmeyer was about 20 feet away, well outside Reach at roughly 10 feet. Once Strohmeyer missed his birdie try, Reach had another birdie putt to collect a victory at Palmetto.
This time, he connected, and after shaking Strohmeyer’s hand, he went back to celebrate with a hug for his mother and caddie, Brigitte. She said she was less nervous carrying Nicholas’ bag than watching as a spectator, and she tried to keep her son calm, as well.
“I enjoy spending the time with him, and I’m coming along anyway,” she said. “I just try to keep him calm. I’ll sing some country songs and tell him some silly jokes and it passes the time. My nerves aren’t as rattled when I’m caddying.”
She said it was “just fabulous” to be on the green with Nicholas when he won the event, and he was also appreciative of the opportunity.
“Most important thing for me,” he said. “She caddies for me in every summer tournament that she possibly can, and, I mean, I really appreciate her so much.”
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