Loren Smith’s column on former UGA and current professional golfer Harris English II

Published 4:04 pm Thursday, April 8, 2021

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Harris English has been playing the PGA Tour for a decade with

favorable results. He has experienced a number of highs and very few

lows. However, the good life and money in the bank is not enough. He wants much more.

He did not join the tour to play for a check, and while his game was

not as financially rewarding in the period 2017-18-19, he nonetheless

banked almost $3 million dollars, after starting out with a bang, winning $1,860, 000 his rookie year in 2012.

“I suppose,” he said after his practice round yesterday, “you could say

that tour pros have it really good today (with the all exempt tour and the

multi-million-dollar purses), but I don’t know any player who is out here for

easy money. We all want to win tournaments. It is quite refreshing to be

able to call yourself a tournament winner on this extremely competitive tour.

It is very tough to win a tournament out here.”

With three tour victories—2013 Fed-X St. Jude Classic, 2014

Mayakoba Golf Classic and the 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions—English has built an impressive resume, for which he is grateful, but he’s anxious to elevate his game.

His early years began in Moultrie where he learned to play golf. He

remembers watching the Masters on television but what turned him on the

most was driving to Athens for Georgia football games, something which still takes place but with a different routine.

Following the Bulldogs was always a family outing, tailgating on

campus when he was a kid. More recently the routine calls for renting a

house for the weekend so that he can invite his friends and grill out for

them. The ritual continues to the campus on Saturday. “I will never tire of tailgating on game day,” he smiles.

“If the Dawgs are on TV, and I can find the time, wherever I am in the

fall, you can bet, I will find a way to tune in, but nothing can top those days

when I would listen to Larry Munson on the Georgia broadcast. I never

learned much about the television announcers because I never listened to

them. I listened to Munson.”

When it was time to make a college decision, there was no decision

to make—his mind was made up as soon as Coach Chris Haack issued an offer. His credentials were over the top which meant that many schools were interested in signing him to scholarship grant. Harris led the Baylor School to four straight Tennessee state titles. He was a four-time All-America selection for the Bulldogs.

It would come as no surprise that when he went to qualifying school,

he qualified in impressive style and was soon a winner on the Korn Ferry

Tour. As a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2012, he felt at home and earned

over $1,186,000. Few professionals have enjoyed a start like that.

He got his own stimulus package in the form of bountiful season

($3,330,000 in earnings), during the challenging year of 2020—that segued

into a 4 th place finish at the U. S. Open at Winged Foot and a victory in the

Sentry Tournament of Champions at Maui where he won in a playoff with

Joaquin Niemann. He won the tournament with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Naturally he is a Georgia boy who has deep affection for the Masters.

Winning here would be the ultimate. After Augusta, he holds deepest

appreciation for the Open Championship, especially since his bride of three

years, Helen Marie, a native of Connecticut, grew up in Great Britain.

However, he was an Open aficionado before he met his wife. “I just like

the courses over there. I like the atmosphere and the people.”

When Helen Marie’s father retuned from a business assignment in

the U. K., she had a yearning to further her education in the South and

chose UGA. Now all her siblings have enrolled in Athens and her family

settled in at the Golden Isles which had become “home-sweet-home” for

Harris soon after he was established on the Tour.

As he was all set for a Thursday morning tee time at 9:48 with Hideki

Matsuyama of Japan, English is entering an anticipatory era. He wants to

move up into the elite competition on the tour, playing with the best players

in the most heralded tournaments, including the majors. At age 31, he

believes the next ten years could be his best years.

He has an impressive base to build on as he enjoys the PGA tour,

traveling with Helen Marie and their two-year-old King Charles Cavalier

Maisey puppy—that name, a mouthful that might have even flummoxed

Larry Munson.