Harris English fires 5-under 65 at Colonial, keeps the momentum going

Fort Worth, Texas — Sitting in the media center following his 5-under 65 on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Harris English was having some serious trouble replaying his five birdies for the media.

"I don't remember that hole," English said, when asked to comment on his birdie on the par-3 16th hole. "What is that? Is it a par 3?"

Yes, Harris, it's a par three — a hole where you stuffed the tee shot to two feet, before calmly rolling in the birdie putt. You'll have to excuse the PGA Tour rookie for his lack of memory recall. With the number of birdies he's made in the last week, the 22-year-old deserves a pass for not being able to remember a few measly birdies from his opening round.

When a 65 isn't is the worst round you've posted in the last week, you know you're doing something right. Just days before English teed it up at Colonial, he spent Monday playing in the British Open qualifier at Gleneagles Country Club, firing rounds of 60-63 to blitz the field and book his ticket for the third major of the year.

Playing with former Walker Cup teammate Kelly Kraft, English noted that he had no clue where he stood on the day when he rolled in his putt for 60, saying that he was just playing in the moment. He seemed to keep that mindset going on Thursday, never really getting into trouble on a course he said really suits his eye.

"I like the old school feel to this place," English said. "I grew up in south Georgia with the treelined fairways, and you've got to shape the ball out here. It reminds a lot of the Hilton Head Course where you have to hit a lot of fades and draws, and I like shaping the ball."

English worked his way around Colonial, hitting 15 of 18 greens on the day and using a much-improved wedge game to keep himself from making a single bogey. After the Players Championship, he went home and added a fourth wedge to the bag, dropping his 4-iron and narrowing the gaps between his wedges.

So far the move has paid off. In his last three rounds since he made the switch, his scoring average is 62.67. There's no question English is going places based on the way he's played in his first season on tour.

"It really [is the best I've ever hit the ball]," English said. "I felt like I've had the most control over my ball than I've had in a long time," English said. "I kept trying to get more consistent with my swing. I feel like when I start getting long, I start hitting some loose shots. I'm just trying to shorten it up and make it as compact as I can."

After winning last year on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur and safely maneuvering his way through Q-School, English came into the 2012 season with the confidence that he could make it on the PGA Tour.

That's evident by the way he's been played so far this season, making it into the final group on Sunday at the Honda Classic, and the second-to-last group on Saturday at the Players Championship.

Even though he struggled when the pressure ratcheted up a couple notches, English mentioned that the experience of playing with Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar has given him the belief that he can contend on the PGA Tour — even as a fresh-faced rookie.

"I've definitely learned a lot from playing in the final group on the weekend, and I know it's coming," English said. "I know if I keep playing the way I can play and hopefully get back in the same situations, I can keep getting better at it."

From what we've seen out of English over the last couple months, that first win could be a lot closer than he thinks.

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