Lynch: He’s the quietest man on the PGA Tour, but Harris English is making a lot of noise on Steve Stricker’s Ryder Cup radar

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ATLANTA – Harris English has the mien of a seasoned diplomat: unruffled in his demeanor, measured in his language, professional in his comportment, effective in his execution. In short, the kind of player whose existence brings comfort amid uncertainty to men like Steve Stricker and Jay Monahan.

At the end of 2020, the 32-year-old Georgian was ranked No. 28 in the world, low enough that when combined with his quiet disposition he could go months without registering a blip on most radars. Today he’s 11th, high enough that even a soft-spoken style won’t allow him hide from the spotlight, especially over the next three weeks.

English arrives at East Lake for the Tour Championship finale No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings. He left the BMW Championship last week 10th in Ryder Cup points—a position that left him just out of the automatic qualifiers, but presumably registering on Stricker’s radar as he prepares to announce six captain’s picks in a few days.

English doesn’t have a lot of weapons compared to the superstars on the squad, though he is top 10 on the PGA Tour in both strokes gained putting and scrambling, a useful combination in any event, team or individual. But he knows just what he would bring to the team: the aforementioned qualities of the diplomat.

“I think I’m more of a Swiss Army knife. I can play with anybody, I can hang out with anybody,” he said. “I think that’s one of my strengths. I can find common ground with every single person. So whatever role they need me to play, whoever they need me to play with, whatever time, whatever format, I’ll be there and go to war with anybody.”

Facing a lineup that numbers several players who might prove troublesome to pair up within the team—Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, potentially Patrick Reed if he earns a pick—then a guy like English could seem all the more appealing to Skipper Stricker.

Two of Stricker’s deputies, Jim Furyk and Davis Love III, have been in contact with English, telling him to focus on his own game and let the results make his case. The two previous FedEx Cup playoff events have been disappointing—English didn’t crack the top 25 in either—but his season has been a standout. He won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Travelers Championship, the latter in a 8-hole playoff with Kramer Hickok during which English showed the kind of calm under pressure that might reassure a Ryder Cup captain about picking a rookie for a team that already is virtually assured of having at least three first-timers.

He starts the Tour Championship six strokes behind Patrick Cantlay, and a solid showing will make selecting him easier for Stricker, and skipping him more difficult to justify.

As one of the more demure guys on Tour, English isn’t likely to benefit from the Player Impact Program, the controversial bonus pool that will bestow riches on players deemed to move the engagement needle with fans. Player reaction to the PIP program initially suggested an incipient socialist resistance on Tour, as some pros moaned about free money going to the elite when it could be better spent on the common good, which they usually define as themselves. English was not among the moaners.

“I get why they did it. Obviously, the Saudi league has caused the PGA Tour to up their game and keep the best players,” English said Wednesday. “This is the best tour in the world. If we can keep the best players playing on the PGA Tour, that’s the best. So whatever they need to do to keep those guys playing over here and keep our field strong, they can do it.”

Credit him for supporting a program that is unlikely to benefit him personally. English doesn’t much care for social media, the engine that drives the positive (and often negative) engagement ratings. “I do do my Twitter, but I’m more follow football, follow sports,” he said. “I’m not a guy who’s going to like self-promote a lot. I don’t want people to know what I’m doing every single day. Whatever I’m doing, I’m going to video it or take pictures of it, like that’s not me. So I can’t force that. I can’t be fake.”

Somewhere Monahan breathed a sigh of relief. That’s one less loose cannon the commissioner has to concern himself with. But then, English isn’t aiming to give Monahan something to think about. Stricker, on the other hand …

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