By Garrett Johnston / Special to The Times-Enterprise
It may be the holiday season but Harris English is putting in some good work at the moment. The 24-year-old native of Thomasville scorched the competition on Saturday with his playing partner Matt Kuchar at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples, Florida. The pair delivered an impressive 12-under 60 at the event staged at Tiburon Golf Club and the Ritz Carlton to take a four-stroke lead over the team of Retief Goosen and Fredrik Jacobson.
In the team better-ball format Saturday, where each team takes the best score from each hole, the former Bulldog English and former Yellow Jacket Kuchar joined forces and delivered a special stretch of golf from holes 8-17. In that 10-hole charge, the Sea Island neighbors fired at flags and drained numerous putts to the tune of 11-under par.
After Kuchar made birdie on the par-3 8th to begin the stifling stretch, English birdied the ninth and tenth. The latter putting them back in the lead after starting with a share of it from Friday’s first round 8-under 64.
From there, they were off and running. They would birdie 11-13, eagle 14, and birdie 15-17.
The two Georgia residents certainly seem to be enjoying their time together.
“Matt is awesome, he’s become a great friend to me,” English said. “We play a lot back home (Sea Island). His game is so consistent and he’s really got no weaknesses. He’s so calm and cool out there, it’s awesome to play with him.”
There was little sign of weakness in their collective effort Saturday.
Looking ahead in order to finish this out today, English is “just looking to keep going low and see how many birdies we can make.”
English has made his fair share of birdies in 2013.
His maiden PGA Tour win in June at the FedEx Classic in Memphis, Tenn., got him into the coveted field at Augusta National coming in April.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Masters next year,” English said. “It’s been a big goal of mine ever since I was a little kid so I’m just looking forward to having another fun year.”
A second career PGA Tour win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico last month has English in some very profound company.
English and two-time major champion Rory McIlroy are the only players who have won multiple PGA Tour titles under the age of 25. On the world’s strongest tour and it’s grandest stages from Pebble Beach to TPC Sawgrass, that is quite the accomplishment.
But for English, he’s looking ahead for even greater things in 2014.
“Just keep getting better and better everyday,” English said of his goals. “Obviously that Ryder Cup is a huge goal of mine, obviously playing for Tom Watson would be an unbelievable experience. I’m just looking forward to next year.”
The Ryder Cup is one of the game’s greatest events, pitting 12 of America’s top golfers against 12 from Europe. It occurs every other year. In 2014 it will be staged at Gleneagles Resort in Scotland.
English currently stands at fifth in the US team standings. The top nine on Aug. 11 will automatically qualify.
This Bulldog is on the hunt.