Golf Tidbits: English breaks out at Open qualifier

Following an appearance at the Walker Cup last year, Harris English knew one thing - he wanted to do everything he could to qualify for the British Open because he loved playing golf in Scotland.

No one knew it would be this easy.

English teed it up Monday at the Open Championship qualifier outside Dallas. After a decent first nine holes, he was 4-under par. Nothing changed after his next three holes.

Then, BINGO! The light went on.

English poured in six consecutive birdies from the fourth to shoot 10-under 60 and set a new course record at the Gleneagles Country Club.

English followed with a 7-under 63 to win the qualifier by four strokes.

"I knew the wind wasn't going to be blowing, so I knew the scores were going to be low. I couldn't let up. I decided to keep the petal to the metal on the last 18 holes, where I left myself in really good position to make putts," English stated.

The closest English has been to 17-under on the PGA Tour this year was at the annual birdie-fest at the Humana Challenge. He was 13-under after two rounds at that event, but picked up just three more strokes on the weekend to finish tied for 19th at 16-under.

The 22-year-old PGA Tour rookie has teed it up 14 times on tour this year, but has posted just one top-10 finish.

English has managed to post back-to-back under par rounds 12 times, but in his last four events he is a combined 21-over par.

So where did this come from?

"I was relaxed. I had some fun. I was striking the ball really well. In fact, I was doing everything really well," English explained afterward.

Sounds pretty simple. Go out and have fun while golfing. You usually only have fun when you're shooting good scores though.

English could still qualify for the U.S. Open, but if he doesn't, that means the British Open will be his first major event.

"It's awesome. I played on the Walker Cup (team) last year in Scotland, which was a really special experience. I mean, it's the home of golf over there," English said. "I told my parents and my agent that I really, really wanted to play in the British Open, so I came here today with that goal and here I go."

Not to burst his bubble, but this year's British Open is in England at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story, though.

In the meantime, count English as one of the favorites this week at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Sure, he's coming off a stretch in which seven of his last 14 rounds were over par and hasn't finished inside the top 60 in those four starts, but he obviously got his week off to a hot start.

Momentum is a great thing. Just ask Jason Dufner.


Anthony Kim has reminded me of a failed No. 1 draft pick in recent years. He has battled a slew of injuries, which have kept him from reaching his full potential. That makes his announcement from earlier this week a wise one.

Kim tried to play through a left thumb injury in 2010 before eventually having reconstructive surgery on the thumb.

This year, he injured his right elbow at the Texas Open when he struck a rock while trying to hit out of a bush. Couple that with tendinitis in his left forearm and Kim has withdrawn from his last three events.

With both injuries bothering him, the 26-year-old announced he will rehab the injuries for the next four-to-five months. Kim hopes to return for the Fall Series.

Kim, a three-time PGA Tour winner, has finished just two of 10 events this year, with a tie for 42nd being his best finish.

Kim's biggest issue going forward will be his eligibility. He'll likely apply for a medical extension from 2013, and there is little doubt that would be granted.

But his exemption from his 2010 win at the Houston Open runs out at the end of this season. If he doesn't win in the Fall Series, Kim will get into some events next year via the medical extension, but will have to earn a certain amount of money in a certain number of events to get his card for the remainder of next season.

Whatever challenges lie ahead, it seems Kim is doing the right thing for a change. He is shutting it down to get healthy. With his age and pedigree, Kim has easily 15 to 20 more years of tour golf ahead of him.

A healthy Kim can only increase the depth of a strong, young core of players competing on the PGA Tour.


* Dicky Pride's second-place finish last week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship last weekend earned him a healthy paycheck of $702,000. That is nearly $220,000 more than he made in any year of his previous 19 seasons on the PGA Tour.

* The top three players in the world are all playing this week at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in England. Between that event and the Crowne Plaza Invitational, nine of the top 15 players in the world are playing this week. Look for at least that many next week at The Memorial, which already has commitments from nine of the top 10 players in the world. Dustin Johnson, who has fallen to No. 19 while taking time off due to a back injury, plans to return to action at Muirfield Village.