AUGUSTA, Ga. – When Harris English walked off the green at TPC Southwind as the champion of the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, the first thought that flashed through his mind, he said, was, “I’m going to the Masters.”
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I was seven years old,” English said. “When I watched it on television the last couple of years, it kind of hurt not being here. This was the course I always wanted to play.”
English attended the tournament once before, driving from Chattanooga, Tenn., where he attended high school, in 2004 with a friend who had tickets for Sunday. As a spectator, English witnessed Phil Mickelson win his first green jacket.
“I was on the 16th green when he made birdie, and I was standing on the 18th tee kind of thinking there was going to be a playoff,” English recalled. “I played with Phil a couple of years ago in the Shell Houston Open and told him how I got chill bumps from when he made the putt on 16.”
The tournament hasn’t begun yet, but English has already made his first Masters moment. He drove from his home in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday and played a practice round with Brandt Snedeker. At the par-3, 155-yard 12th hole, Snedeker planted a 9-iron on the thin, angled green. When it was his turn, English wavered over what club to hit.
“Just rip a wedge,” Snedeker advised.
English listened and recorded the second hole-in-one of his life.
Since turning pro in 2011, English has been mostly on target. Less than six months after notching his maiden Tour title, he followed with a win at the OHL Mayakoba Classic. The victory put him in select company, joining Rory McIlroy as the only players under 25 (at the time) with multiple Tour titles. When informed of this notable, he smiled widely.
“That’s pretty cool,” English said.
So is being born and bred in the Peach State, graduating from the University of Georgia and finally living his dream of playing in the Masters. English has heard all about how no Masters rookie has won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but this Masters newcomer said history isn’t going to hold him back.
“The main thing about this tournament is controlling your nerves and controlling your emotions so you can think clearly,” said English, sounding more like a seasoned veteran. “When the tournament starts, my emotions will be running hot, that’s for sure. Hopefully I can keep them in check and create some back nine roars on Sunday.”