5 Things: English wins; Stuard is solid; more
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Harris English's second PGA Tour victory wasn't an easy one, but it was convincing. In his first trip to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, English pulled away from a crowded leaderboard on the back nine of Sunday's final round to win by four shots over Brian Stuard.
Here are 5 Things to Know from El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
• • •
1. ENGLISH'S FINER POINTS: With seven birdies in 11 holes, Harris English pulled away from a tightly grouped leaderboard that featured a handful of changes at the top. English not only steadied the situation, he locked it down.
The 24-year-old University of Georgia product began the final round a shot behind Robert Karlsson and bogeyed the second hole. It would be his last. After his birdie-heavy stretch mid-round, English closed with five straight pars to nail down the win.
English said the key was to think British. In other words, controlling his game amid high coastal winds was key.
"I kind of went back to my shots at the British Open because you got to keep 'em low and hit 'em really solid and not really hit full shots," he said. "You've got to grip down and really control your ball flight and control your spin."
Once he got to the green, English felt solid.
"I knew I was putting good all week; that was the strength of my game," he said. "I felt like if I could get it on the greens somewhere 30 feet or in, I had a really good chance of making it. So it really helped my confidence level coming down the stretch."
English's 21-under total of 263 (68-62-68-65) set a tournament record, eclipsing Brian Gay's total in 2008 by a shot.
The victory puts him in good company: English and Rory McIlroy are the only two players under 25 on Tour with multiple victories. It was English's second victory in his past 14 starts. He also won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June.
• • •
2. KARLSSON CAN'T FOLLOW COUNTRYMAN: On the same day that fellow Swede Henrik Stenson won in Dubai to become the first player to take the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai titles in the same season, Robert Karlsson claimed the 54-hole lead at Mayakoba.
Unlike Stenson, however, Karlsson was unable to hang on. After playing Nos. 12-14 in 4 over, he closed with a 72 to finish T-6 and six shots back of English.
"It was great to get experience in the final group. I was hanging in there. I was fighting and battling hard," he said. "Those were key putts he (English) made on 11 and 12. I missed mine and then hit my drive right on 13. That was it."
It was the only round that Karlsson didn't finish in the lead: he also was the outright leader after 18 holes, and held a share of the lead after 36.
There was a bright spot for the Swede beyond his $194,250 paycheck: Karlsson's top-10 finish qualifies him for the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.
• • •
3. STUARD SECOND AGAIN: Bogeys at the second and 12th holes meant Brian Stuard's six Sunday birdies weren't enough for him to keep pace with English.
But his 67 earned him a runner-up finish at Mayakoba. He also tied for second in 2010, his only other start in the OHL Classic.
The Michigane native rises from 82nd to eighth in FedEx Cup points, well ahead of last year's finish of 78th. His $648,000 check is more than half his 2013 season total of $1,032,028.
• • •
4. HOMECOMING WEEK: All six OHL Classic at Mayakoba winners were in this week's field – with mixed results. Fittingly, defending champ John Huh led the way and tied for 23rd at 9 under.
Gay tied for 45th at 6 under, 14 shots off his previous record-setting pace at 278. Cameron Beckman tied for 55th at 4 under.
Johnson Wagner (2011) and Mark Wilson (2009) missed the cut, while Fred Funk (2007) withdrew after an opening-round 75.
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: Thanks to English, the Georgia Bulldogs can claim back-to-back wins on Tour; Chris Kirk won the McGladrey Classic. . . . English was initially handed the trophy for the FedEx Cup rather than the OHL Classic. . . . With his T-3 finish this week, Jason Bohn needed just four starts to match his previous season's total of two top-10 finishes. "I have never had a great start like this, he said. "I've always been one to finish the year good. So it's kind of nice that from now on hopefully I'll be able to start my year when I'm playing well." . . . Justin Leonard's T-6 finish, hampered somewhat by an opening-round 70, gave him his 21st consecutive season with at least one top-10 finish. . . . In four starts this season, Chris Stroud has twice finished T-3 and twice missed the cut; Stroud shot 68 Sunday. . . . Justin Hicks was 6 under on the front and 2 over on the back en route to a 67 Sunday, good for his best career finish of T-6. . . . Charles Howell III has five starts this year with three top 10s; a 69 on Sunday kept him in the 60s all week.
– Adam Schupak and PGA Tour contributed.