5 Things: English wins, Mickelson surges
Sunday, June 9, 2013
A steady hand from the 17th fairway helped Harris English pull off a challenging second shot and make birdie, gaining a two-stroke lead just moments after a bogey at the 18th by Scott Stallings had dropped him from a tie atop the FedEx St. Jude Classic leaderboard.
Forgive English if he savors the win for a while, since it's his first on the PGA Tour. At that, the field also included Phil Mickelson, who finished T-2, and four other golfers in the top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Here are 5 Things to Know from the final round of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
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1. ENGLISH 101: Under par every day this week, Harris English still needed a late surge to take home his first PGA Tour win.
English’s second-round 64 did half the work on the scorecard, but credit his gut for moving him into the lead late at TPC Southwind. A bogey at No. 13 was his fourth in a nine-hole stretch against just two birdies. He followed with two pars to get back on track, then birdied Nos. 16-17 to tie and overtake Scott Stallings for the lead. The latter birdie provided plenty of cushion to play the final hole without issue.
"It went in dead center and gave me a lot of momentum going into 18," English said.
In his 44th Tour start, English became the sixth pro this season to turn the first-round lead or a share of it into an eventual victory. English and five others shot 66 Thursday to co-lead at 4 under.
"I was just really relaxed out there today," English said. "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. . . .
"I really didn't think I'd be in this seat right here coming off 9. I thought I kind of made some really dumb bogeys on eight, nine and kind of shot myself out of the tournament. But (caddie Brian Smith) was saying, 'Hey let's go beat this back nine. . . .' So it was almost pedal to the metal."
But he also was the St. Jude Classic’s seventh come-from-behind winner in eight years, having started the day a shot back of leader and playing partner Shawn Stefani. English later trailed Scott Stallings by as many as three shots about midway through the final round.
English, who will not play in the U.S. Open, has made 13 of 17 cuts this year and posted four top-10 finishes.
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2. MICKELSON RALLIES: Who knows how English might have played the 18th had a birdie putt fallen for Phil Mickelson on the 17th and the lead been just one shot.
Mickelson was in strong form down the stretch with birdies at the 14th, 16th and 18th, capped by a dart of an approach shot to inside 2 feet on the final hole. He also had a birdie run at the 17th, but the putt of about 20 feet stayed high and just ran past the hole. He earned his 28th career runner-up finish on Tour.
Playing the St. Jude Classic to tune up for the U.S. Open, Mickelson is hoping his strategy fares better than did his plan leading up to the Masters. Mickelson finished T-16 at the Shell Houston Open, then skipped a week before finishing a non-factor T-54 at Augusta National.
"I'm really encouraged with the way I hit my irons," Mickelson said. "Got to get the 3-wood in play a little bit more, although next week at Merion distance won't be as critical as TPC Southwind. I'll be able to hit higher and softer shots."
He’s got another trend to break as well: After finishing T-3 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and third at the Wells Fargo Championship this year, Mickelson followed those near-misses with missed cuts at his next events, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship.
But the trend he surely hopes will hold up is this: Mickelson played the week before each of the four times he won a major.
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3. ROOKIE REED ROLLS ON: Patrick Reed’s 64 Saturday tied for the low round of the week, but the Augusta State product shot even par Sunday to remain 8 under and finish fifth.
Reed birdied the first two holes of his final round, but ended with four bogeys to go with four birdies. He earned his second top 10, having finished T-7 in February at Pebble Beach.
Like English, Reed is known to get the mental help from his caddie. His wife, Justine, is on his bag – also supplying what he lists as his favorite quote: “Nerves just mean you’re prepared.” Apparently Reed’s nerves were just about right as he earned the best finish of his young Tour career.
The 22-year-old will not play in the U.S. Open at Merion.
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4. STAR POWER BEFORE OPEN: Mickelson wasn’t the only big name in Memphis this week.
• Dustin Johnson, who last year also notched his first Tour win at the St. Jude, finished T-10 in his title defense. Johnson’s score is a bit deceptive, as he started the tournament with three birdies and an eagle on his first six holes and played even-par golf the rest of the way.
• Padraig Harrington drew a loud roar with a long birdie putt at No. 17 that got him to 5 under for the week, parring the last to finish T-10 as well. Harrington’s 65 a day earlier keyed his week.
• Ryan Palmer was bogey-free for the weekend, a 65-67 finish getting him into contention at 9 under. Palmer had just one birdie on the back nine Sunday, though, after notching four a day earlier.
• Camilo Villegas, like English and Stallings, was under par every day to finish in the top 10 at 5 under. In position to make an outside run at the turn, Villegas double-bogeyed the 12th and bogeyed the 14th to fall back, then shot his third 69 of the week.
• Brandt Snedeker, the highest-ranked golfer entered in the St. Jude Classic, missed the cut by two shots.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Scott Stallings led by as many as three shots during the final round, thanks to four front-nine birdies, but could not earn his third Tour win in as many years after double-bogeying the 15th and bogeying the last. "You have to learn from the experiences that you have like this today and hopefully I'll get a little bit better break next time," Stallings said. . . . Four players have earned their first Tour win here since 1989, when the tournament moved to TPC Southwind. . . . Of the 37 U.S. Open entrants in the St. Jude Classic field, 23 made the cut. . . . Sunday’s low round came from Gary Woodland, who shot 64 to finish T-18 at 4 under. . . . Glen Day earned his first top 10 since 2008, closing his week with a 69 to get to 5 under.
The Associated Press contributed.