Just two years ago, Harris English was an afterthought in the golf world. He got off to a hot start on Tour, getting his first tour win at TPC Southwind and following it up with another at Mayakoba six months later. At the time, English and Rory Mcilroy were the only players 25 or younger with multiple Tour wins.
It looked like English was on his way to stardom, but his path to the top of the PGA Tour took quite the detour. English went seven years without a victory, falling outside the top-300 in the Official World Golf Ranking and finishing a career-low 149th in the FedEx Cup standings in 2019.
English only had conditional status entering 2020, but he made the most of his starts with four top-6 finishes in the fall of 2019 which was good enough to earn his first trip to the Tour Championship since 2012 and following his lowest FedEx Cup finish with his highest as he finished 12th in the standings.
He has taken it up a notch in 2021. English ended the long winless drought at Kapalua and outlasted Kramer Hickock in an eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship. His success hasn’t been limited to regular Tour events, as English has posted top-4 finishes in each of the last two US Opens.
English arrived at the site of his first Tour win ranked fifth in the FedEx Cup and 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking—both career highs. He has cemented his place amongst the best players in the game.
The run of strong play have continued for English this week, English opened the tournament with a 28 on his first nine holes and rode the wave to the finish for an eight-under 62 Thursday.
English’s steady play carried over to Friday, as the Georgia Bulldog began the day at the 10th and birdied both par 3s along with the par-5 16th on the back side. English made bogey at the 2nd but followed it up with a 339-yard drive and stuck his approach to four feet to make eagle at the 3rd.
“I had 211 hole, 202 front. That's a stock 5‑iron for me. I can aim kind of left edge of the green and fade it in there,” English said. “That's really what I did. I struck it well, hit it a touch left where I wanted to, but got a great bounce to the right and rolled over there about four feet, so that's all I can ask for.”
A par save from eight feet at the 6th kept the momentum going and another birdie at the 8th allowed English to finish with a second round 65 to take a two-shot lead over Cameron Smith.
“I've been playing really solid. When I miss the greens, I feel like my short game's been on point and I feel like I'm putting it well. Made some good saves for par, good birdie putts. Everything is clicking right now,” English said.
Smith matched the low round of the week Friday with an eight under 62. Smith had just eight putts on the front nine and tied the PGA Tour record with 18 putts in the second round. Smith will look to win his fourth Tour win this weekend.