Golf notes: English takes major strides in second season

Since he became a professional in 2011, Harris English has steadily worked his way up the ladder. The next step could be the Tour Championship.

English emerged on the scene by winning the 2007 Georgia Amateur when he was only 17. During his career at the University of Georgia, he won a Tour event as an amateur and confidently earned his exemption on the PGA Tour in his first attempt at Q-school. As a rookie he played well enough to finish 79th on the money list.

The Thomasville native and current Sea Island resident has now taken another step forward in his sophomore season. English snagged his first victory, the FedEx St. Jude Classic on June 9, and made the cut at the PGA Championship and the British Open, where he finished 15th.

English will start the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs in 26th place on the points list. He’s got an excellent opportunity to end up among the top 30 and secure a place at East Lake for the Tour Championship.

“I’m definitely a lot more confident this year,” English said. “Mostly it’s figuring out how I play golf, how I hold myself together on the weekend under pressure. But it’s just golf. It’s still just getting the ball in the hole like it was in college and amateur golf. The pressure is more out here, lot more people, harder golf courses.”

English has a nice blend of skills. He’s long off the tee (32nd on Tour) and very good on the greens (20th in strokes gained — putting). He’s got four top-10s finishes, eight top-25s and has missed the cut only five times in 24 starts.

“It’s about controlling my emotions and playing with confidence,” English said.

English has befriended many of the veterans who live or receive instruction at Sea Island. It’s not uncommon to see him play practice rounds with major champions like Davis Love III and Zach Johnson.

“I feel like I can bounce stuff off these guys all the time — Davis, Zach, Brandt Snedeker, Jonathan Byrd, Boo Weekley,” he said. “I’ve gotten to be good friends with a lot of the veterans.”

Setting the FedEx stage: The FedEx Cup field will be trimmed 30 percent this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top 70 in the points standings will advance to the BMW Championship in Chicago in two weeks, with the top 30 there moving on to the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

Several local golfers need a strong effort this week if they want to advance. Currently in the 70-100 standings are Nicholas Thompson (73), Scott Brown (79), Stewart Cink (85), Brian Harman (88) and Erik Compton (94). Currently in the third round, but lingering near the bubble, are Bryce Molder (68) and Cameron Tringale (69).

Joining English among those who should advance safely to the third round are Matt Kuchar (4), Charles Howell III (24), Zach Johnson (25), Bubba Watson (27), Patrick Reed (32), Russell Henley (33), Roberto Castro (34) and Chris Kirk (47).

Peachtree’s Perno prevails: Donn Perno, the PGA golf professional at Atlanta’s Peachtree Golf Club, won the Georgia PGA Match Play Championship at East Lake. Perno defeated reigning Georgia PGA player of the year Craig Stevens, from Brookstone Golf and Country Club in Acworth, in the final match after nine holes when Stevens was unable to continue for health reasons.

Perno defeated Sung Bak, a PGA apprentice from the Peachtree Family Golf Center in Duluth, in 21 holes to win his semifinal. Stevens defeated Bill Murchison of Towne Lake Hills in Woodstock 1 up in the other semifinal.

Former Georgia PGA president dies: Ed Causey Jr., the first president of the Georgia PGA, died recently in Warner Robins at age 84. He played football and golf at Troy State and later became a golf professional. He played in the 1963 U.S. Open in Brookline, Mass., and went on to be a vice president with the PGA of America and a rules official at the 1975 Ryder Cup.

Pictor wins Georgia Senior: Marietta’s Brenda Pictor won the Georgia Senior Women’s Amateur Championship for the fifth straight year. Pictor shot a 2-over 146 at the King and Prince Golf Course in St. Simons and beat runner-up Betsy Butler of Atlanta by seven shots. Pictor has won the event in six of the last seven years.

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