PGA Tour rookie Harris English won a ticket to the Open Championship this summer — which also marks his first major – via the International Finals America 36-hole qualifier on Monday at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas. The 22-year-old opened with a record-breaking ten-under 60 in the first round, the lowest 18-hole qualifying score since the R&A started holding qualifiers in the U.S. in 2004.
No big deal.
English was on cruise control all day, firing a seven-under 63 in the second round to earn medalist honors by four shots at 17-under.
“It was a very relaxing round. I just lost track on what I was doing,” English, whose best finish so far came at the Heritage where he tied for eighth, told the AP. “It’s pretty amazing.”
As Harris was lining up his 20-footer for birdie from the fringe on No. 8 in the first 18 — they teed off No. 9 — Steven Bowditch, who was keeping his score, walked over to the rookie’s caddie, Joe Etter, and asked if the putt was for a 59. He wasn’t sure. Bowditch said he was pretty sure it was for a 59 or a 60. Turned out it was the latter.
Harris was on such a roll — and there aren’t big scoreboards, etc. at qualifiers — that he was only focused on making more birdies rather than the result. He made six consecutive birdies to close out his record-setting 60.
Perhaps more impressive was following it up with the 63 in the second round to complete the bogey-free 36-hole effort. 60-63 = 123 — that probably looks like the nine-hole scores and then the 18-hole total that a few of you may have shot over the weekend.
The top eight in the 70-something player field advance to the Open Championship at Royal Lytham in St. Annes in England.
Englishman Greg Owen also qualified, posting a 36-hole total of 14-under, including a 61 in the afternoon round.
“Canadian” Stephen Ames shot a 61, too, to finish at 10-under, along with Andres Romero and Justin Hicks, to secure spots.
With four guys tied at T6 for three remaining spots, Americans Bob Estes and James Driscoll, Swede Daniel Chopra and Scotsman Russell Knox had to play a few more in a sudden-death playoff.
Estes tweeted: “Made about an 18 footer from pin high left in the fringe on 1st playoff hole to advance! Going back to Lytham!”
Chopra, Driscoll and Knox battled it out on the second extra hole, the par-3 17th. Knox, a 26-year-old PGA Tour rookie, unfortunately had some trouble with the water hazard, leaving Chopra and Driscoll to take the last two spots.
Knox tweeted: “Tough day today. Missed out on a British open spot in a playoff. Gutted. Positive note: played much better 65 66. -9. Still gutted.”
He’s first alternate, which if I remember correctly means that he still has a decent shot at getting in the field. Or at least a shot.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)