Young American Harris English chased down and then lapped the field in record-breaking fashion at El Camaleon Golf Club to win the OHL Mayakoba Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Sunday afternoon. English fired a final round 65 to post the tournament record 21-under-par 263 as he defeated Brian Stuard by four shots. Jason Bohn, Chris Stroud and Rory Sabbatini shared third another shot adrift.
After plenty of rain soaked the Mexican Riviera over the week, Harris English drenched the field with birdies, 27 of them, as he set the tournament record. English only made two bogeys in the final three rounds after posting two and a double in his opening 18. After multiple delays over the first two days, English kept his focus and fired a bogey-free 62 to share the 36-hole lead at 12-under. His 68 on Saturday saw him trail Robert Karlsson by one as he entered Sunday. His bogey on No. 2 on Sunday saw him fall off the pace but the 24-year-old former Georgia Bulldog birdied seven of his next 11 holes to break away from the pack. It’s back-to-back weeks for the ‘Dawgs and the Sea Island Mafia on TOUR as English joins Chris Kirk in the victory circle this week.
English was my No. 1 ranked player this week and he played like it. His victory this week was based on his ability to hit greens, hole putts and keep out of trouble. His driving accuracy was only T57 (77 players made the cut) but he was T10 in GIR and led the field in putts per GIR. I guess it’s not a huge deal if you don’t keep in the fairway here when the rough is only 1.5” deep! He’s by far the longest player to add his name to the list of winners at this event.
At 24 years of age, he’s now won twice on TOUR and both of these were in his last 14 events (FESJC). Only Rory McIlroy has more victories for players under the age of 25 on TOUR. That’s not bad company.
Check out where English has had his best finishes in his three years on TOUR:
2012: T8 Harbour Town, T5 Colonial, T10 Sedgefield
2013: T9 Waialea, T7 Copperhead Course, T6 TPC Louisiana, WIN TPC Southwind
2013-2014: T7 CIMB, WIN El Camaleon
This shows gamers that he can play on tight tracks (Harbour Town, TPC Southwind, Colonial, Copperhead, Waialea) and he can play in shootouts (TPC Louisiana, El Camaleon, Sedgefield). This just confirms my suspicions that he’s really, really good and is only going to get better. There are plenty of guys who can compete in birdie fests but there are not many that can also be competitive on the tighter tracks as well. English is now 4-4 on the season and this is his second top 10 after his T7 in Malaysia. He’s been under par in 15 of his 16 rounds so far in 2013-14.
With this victory, English collects $1,080,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first six events of 2013-14 as Harris English joins Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson and Chris Kirk as the winners this year.
Jimmy Walker is the only first-time winner in 2013-14. There were 12 of them last season. We have seen five young studs and Walker, another player in his prime, rack up the first five wins of the year.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. This season, four of the first six winners have held the outright or co-54-hole lead. Robert Karlsson couldn’t hold the 54-hole lead this week.
English posted 21-under to break Brian Gay’s tournament record by one shot.
English is the fourth winner to have lifted the trophy in his maiden voyage at this event.
The best finish for a defending champion is still T12 as John Huh was a respectable T23 this week.
Harris English and John Huh make it back-to-back years of players 24 or younger winning this event.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
This is the part of the column where I list the winners and their age. Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and was joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia. Harris English, 24, joins Chris Kirk, 28, Webb Simpson, 28, and Dustin Johnson, 29, as the twenty-somethings on the board as the Young Guns now have four of six wins to start the season. The Old Guys were led this week by 40-year-old Jason Bohn. Folks, if you need birdies, you can do much, much worse than rolling with Jason Bohn!
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Brian Stuard: Well, let’s keep this simple, shall we? He’s played here twice. He was T2 in 2010 and solo second this year. Any other week, 24 birdies, T17 in fairways, T10 in GIR and T11 in putts per GIR would probably have brought home a trophy. His mastery of paspalum greens and fairways cannot be ignored as his best finishes on TOUR (T4 Puerto Rico) have all been on this turf. With almost $750k in the bank after four events, he should be able to exhale and relax as 2014 picks back up in January. His best finishes have come on courses where birdies are necessary so remember that moving forward.
Jason Bohn: After his T2 in Las Vegas and his 68-77 last week, gamers were probably not too warm about inserting Bohn into the lineup this week. I suggested that you DIAL UP THE BOHN PHONE and those of you who did were rewarded with 18 birdies, an eagle and only four bogeys. Bohn hit plenty of fairways but it was his putter that finished the week fifth in putts per GIR. In Bohn’s last eight events he’s racked up two T2s, a T3 and a T9. He’s missed the cut in three of those. He’s already surpassed his 2013 money in four events in 2013-14. I have no problem popping him into birdie bonanzas!
Chris Stroud: Similar to Bohn, Stroud has now hit the top three twice in four events in 2013-14 yet has MC in his other two events. Stroud makes his money with his putter and he is an AUTOMATIC PICK for this tournament. He was fourth in 2011, T5 last year and now T3 this year. He loves Mexico. He carded 23 birdies as he was sixth in fairways and seventh in putts per GIR. He keeps putting himself in decent positions as he searches for his first win.
Rory Sabbatini: He entered the final round just one shot behind Robert Karlsson but a bogey on No. 1 and a double on No. 5 dug a hole too deep to climb out of on Sunday. He rallied for six birdies in his next nine holes after that double but bogeys on Nos. 15 and 18 kept him out of second by himself. Sabbatini’s record on this course sums up his MO for gamers. He was T5 in 2011 and then went 76-75 last year to MC. In his first four events of 2013-14 he broke 70 twice as he finished MC, MC, T53 and T70 last week. I didn’t see this coming but this week looked like the Sabbatini who came charging down the stretch last September.
Justin Leonard: Welcome back to the column! We last saw Leonard in the top 10 last St. Paddy’s Day in Tampa as he was T4. If you bought into the straight hitter-good putter theory this week, you were handsomely rewarded with T6. I fell into this category in my weekly draft as I selected him in the fifth and final round and he was my best finisher of the week. Leonard had one top 10 last year in 24 events and only two top 25s but I will file away that he’s made four straight weekends on TOUR.
Justin Hicks: After making only two bogeys in the first 67 holes of the week, the excellent ball-striker made a double and a bogey in his final five holes to cost him three shots and a ton of cash. He was T2 in fairways and No. 1 in GIR and his T6 is his best finish on TOUR since T7 last year at FESJC in June, where English won as well. This is only his second top 10 finish of his career.
Charles Howell III: I think we’re going to call my son MG3 instead of Mikey Three Sticks but the jury is still out. They’re going to name the fall-winter season after CHIII when he retires because he just keeps cashing checks each year in October, November, January and February. In five events to kick of the new season, CHIII has a T7, a T5 and now a T6. Just stop overthinking this. Quit it. He’s also five-for-five in Mexico and this was the fourth year in a row inside the top 20.
Robert Karlsson: The 54-hole leader was trying to complete the Swedish Daily Double after his countryman Henrik Stenson won the Race to Dubai by firing TWENTY FIVE UNDER PAR. Karlsson had it to 19-under through eight holes but he began leaking oil on the backside. After back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, his double on the very next hole killed his chances of a victory but he did hit the top 10 for the second week in a row (T10 at McGladrey). He’s now doubled the amount of top 10s that he had in 18 events in 2013.
Bob Estes: His 76-73 his last time out in Las Vegas didn’t inspire confidence in gamers but if you went with the solid driver-good putter theory as mentioned above, Estes would have been a nice find. After making 15 of 18 cuts last season, the Texan has now hit the top 10 twice in his last five events. If he’s healthy, I would expect him to return to the 23-26 event schedule that he would usually play.
Tim Wilkinson: He finished 10th in the Web.com Tour season standings which vaulted him back to the PGA TOUR for the first time since competing in 15 events in 2010. The left-handed ball-striker played in 29 events in 2008 when he was healthy so we should be seeing plenty of him next year. He was MC in his first two events of 2013-14 so I’ll take a minute or two before heading back in his direction.
Catching up on those who looked oh-so-good on Tuesday afternoon…
Harris English: He was No. 1 in my rankings and No. 1 on Sunday afternoon. Bravo!
Tim Clark: He fired a 62 last week to finish T2 and his 63 in round three this week moved him into striking distance entering Sunday. He only made 11 birdies on the week and only one of those was on Sunday as he regressed from T15 to T36.
Brian Gay: His fourth tournament in a row in a different country might have caught up with Gay this week as he couldn’t hole putts or chalk up birdies. He struggled to hit GIR and when he did, his putter didn’t cooperate. He’s made the cut in all six trips to Mexico.
Brendon Todd: All good runs come to an end. There were 77 players who made the weekend. Only one of those players made more bogeys than Todd did (14). His T49 is his worst finish (when making the cut) since last May.
J.J. Henry: In the four events he’s played to start the 2013-14 Henry has now posted three top 25s with his T23 finish this week. He’s played five events here and he’s been T23 or better in four of them. #horseforcourse.
Ryan Moore: He hit plenty of fairways and greens but his putter went cool this week as the CIMB champion finished T23 as well. He had a chance to make some noise on Sunday but his double on No. 10 killed his momentum.
Brian Harman: He couldn’t continue his form that saw him hit the top 10 in two of the three events he entered his fall. His 72-70 missed the cut by a shot. I’m still high on him for the rest of the season.
Daniel Summerhays/Chris Stroud: His streak of four straight weekends ended this week as Summerhays couldn’t find the magic he had here last year. Stroud did just fine as you read about up there (arrow up).
Sadly the analysis does end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be off until further notice as the TOUR hibernates until 2014. If you’re bored, despondent or Jonesing for some golf chat, just follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.