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Harris English wins playoff to take PGA Tournament of Champions

English holds nerve for the first PGA Tour win since 2013.

Harris English celebrates with his wife Helen Marie Bowers.
Harris English celebrates with his wife Helen Marie Bowers.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

HARRIS ENGLISH SANK a six-foot birdie putt on Sunday’s first playoff hole to defeat Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and win the US PGA Tournament of Champions, snapping an eight-year title drought.

The 31-year-old American collected his third career PGA Tour title after 2013 victories at the Mayakoba Classic and St. Jude Classic and will jump to 17th in the world golf rankings.

“It’s incredible,” English said. “A lot of hard work over the years. You never think you’re going to get here again. It’s hard to win out here.

“I had a good chance this week. I felt good about my game. You’ve just got to get it done.”

English fired a four-under par 69 on a windy final day to join Niemann on 25-under at the Plantation course at Kapalua, Hawaii.

World number 43 Niemann birdied six of the first nine holes on his way to a 64 but was foiled in a bid for his second PGA trophy after 2019 at Greenbrier.

“It is what it is, but, yeah, pretty happy,” Niemann said. “I played awesome the whole week, especially today. One of my best rounds.”

English only qualified for the event because of a special one-year invitation to players who reached the 2020 Tour Championship because last season was shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There have been ups and downs but it makes what happened today that much sweeter,” English said. “It’s awesome to get some validation.”

English needed back-to-back birdies on the 668-yard, par-5 18th to win the title, the first coming at the 72nd hole to force the playoff.

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In the playoff, English rolled a long eagle attempt beyond the hole while Niemann, in the rough on a greenside slope, punched out to the fringe and missed an 18-foot birdie putt before English closed out the drama.

Third-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2020 winner, was third on 24-under after a closing 66 with fellow American Ryan Palmer another stroke back in fourth. American Xander Schauffele and South Korean Im Sung-jae shared fifth on 21-under.

Thomas said he was distracted after the controversy that followed when he uttered an anti-gay slur on Saturday that was heard on television coverage.

“Golf wasn’t the main thing on my mind. I had a lot of other things on my mind,” said Thomas, who had apologised on Saturday but still had the incident on his mind.

“I clearly screwed up. I made a terrible judgment call. It definitely was a distraction out there today but now I get time to become a better person for it.”

© – AFP, 2021

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