With three-year rut behind him, English finds himself again in contention

Brentley Romine

HUMBLE, Texas – Beginning in 2013, Harris English had four straight seasons in which he finished inside the top 50 of the FedExCup standings. He won twice in his first three seasons on the PGA Tour. He played in every major in 2014 and ’16.

But in the past three seasons, English has failed to crack the top 100 in points, including finishing a career-worst 149th last season.

The main culprit?

“I made a ton of cuts and didn’t have any top finishes,” English said. “Out here you have to finish in the top 10 a good bit, and I was finishing in that 30th to 40th range and not getting a whole lot of FedExCup points.”

After failing to keep full status via this year’s Korn Ferry Tour Finals by 21 points, English is playing out of this Nos. 125-150 reshuffle this season. Yet he’s already amassed the same number of top-10s as his previous two seasons combined.

English entered this week’s Houston Open with two top-10s in three starts – a T-3 finish at the season-opening Greenbrier and T-6 showing at Sanderson Farms.

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“Those top-10s were massive,” said English, who figures to get about eight fewer starts this season unless he can improve his status. “After the Korn Ferry Finals, I sat down and said, ‘OK, when I’m playing, I’m going to be fully into it. I know I’m not going to get as many starts as I did the previous eight years but I’m going to give it my all.’ Those two top-10s were huge to build my confidence.”

English is showing that improved self-assurance this week at the Golf Club of Houston, where he shot 3-under 69 Saturday to climb to 5 under, just a few shots outside the top 10. He’s also showcasing better ballstriking. He missed six greens during a windy Friday but only five combined in Rounds 1 and 3.

Last season, English finished No. 171 in strokes gained: approach after spending his best years around the top 50. Through three starts this season, he is No. 21.

English credits a return to basics with coach Justin Parsons, whom English started working with out of Sea Island in April.

“I’m hitting it better, no wild shots,” English said. “I’m dialing in my irons and giving myself more chances. … We haven’t recreated the golf swing, but I’ve gone back to what I did well.”

English also hopes to get back to playing full-time on Tour and in the big events. He’s made just two major starts in the past three years.

“I know I can do it,” he said. “I know it’s in there. And it’s nice to see the results finally show up the past few weeks.”