Harris English maintains 2-stroke lead at TPC Southwind

Aug 6, 2021, 2:46 AM | Updated: 4:07 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Harris English shot a 5-under 65 on Friday at TPC Southwind to hold onto the lead in the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

English withstood strong challenges from Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer to hold the top spot at 13-under 127.

Smith had a 62 that required only 18 putts, tying a PGA Tour record for fewest putts in a round. Ancer shot a bogey-free 62, his tour-leading 14th bogey-free round of the season. They were two strokes back.

Ian Poulter (66), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Sam Burns (64) were 10 under, and Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) were 9 under. DeChambeau missed the Tokyo Olympics last week because of a positive test for COVID-19.

English opened the World Golf Championships event Thursday with a 62 to match his lowest PGA Tour score and entered the second round with a two-stroke advantage over a foursome that included Poulter.

English’s opening 65 included four birdies and an eagle.

“I’ve been playing really solid,” he said. “When I miss the greens, I feel like my short game has been on point. And I feel like I’m putting it well. I made some good saves for par, (I made) some good birdies putts. Everything is clicking right now.”

The 2013 winner at TPC Southwind, English showed no signs of relinquishing his lead from the outset. Starting on the back nine, he rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th and added birdies at 14 and 16.

The only blemish during English’s round was a bogey on the par-4 second hole. He missed a 9-foot par putt, but recovered immediately with an eagle on the par-5 third. He hit his 5-iron approach inside 5 feet and made the putt to go up by three strokes. He said the eagle was the key to his round.

“I feel like I just really shook off that bogey well and kept on going,” he said.

Two of English’s four PGA Tour victories come this season, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January in Hawaii and the Travelers Championship in June in Connecticut. He finished third in the U.S. Open.

“This game is all about confidence and if you have confidence on your side, you just run with it,” English said. “In years past, a (bad shot) would send me into a downward spiral. Now I’m enjoying the grind of it.”

A relatively wind-free day produced an abundance of low scores. Of the top 37 on the leaderboard, 34 shot 69 or better.

With 48 of the world’s top 50 players in the 66-player field, English can’t afford to be comfortable with how the first two rounds have gone.

“You’ve got to keep the gas pedal down,” he said. “The scores are pretty low right now and you can’t let up.”

Smith, who finished 10th at the Tokyo Olympics last weekend, said he wasn’t aware of how few putts he had taken until he “was adding them up” as he walked down the 17th fairway.

“I said, ‘That can’t be right’,” Smith said. “It was just a good day on the greens. The surfaces here are so good.”

Smith also had a bogey-free round that included an eagle on the par-5 third hole. He needed only seven putts through the first nine holes. On the back nine, he rolled in birdies on Nos. 12, 14 and 16 – all inside 25 feet – and nearly added a birdie on 18, sliding his 22-foot putt just left of the cup.

Ancer used solid iron play to post his 62. Each of his eight birdie putts was inside 17 feet.

“I’m really happy with the way I stroked the ball,” he said. “My long irons were spot on.”

Ancer started the round five shots back of English, but made his move early. He birdied four of his first seven holes to get to 10 under. He added four more birdies on his back nine.

The 14 bogey-free rounds this season are a testament to his consistency.

“That’s always my goal to be bogey-free when I tee it up,” Ancer said. “It makes me kind of simplify every hole. Just hitting greens is the biggest goal and then, from there, I just focus, obviously, on my putting. But I’m happy that I got a round like that under my belt here. This is a very demanding golf course.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer, center, vies for the puck with Los Angeles Kings defe...
Associated Press

Kopitar scores twice, Kings rally for 5-3 win over Coyotes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a rough 48-hour stretch that saw them give up nine goals Tuesday and one of their goaltenders placed on waivers Wednesday, Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings knew they would have to dig deep to prevent things from spiraling even further. Kopitar and his teammates responded, but they had […]
23 hours ago
Florida Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk, right, deflects the puck wide of the net behind Vancouver Canuck...
Associated Press

Sam Bennett scores twice to help Panthers beat Canucks 5-1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Sam Bennett scored twice and the Florida Panthers ended a three-game skid with a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Matthew Tkachuk added a goal and two assists, Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Sam Bennett also scored and Spencer Knight made 31 saves. “We’ve got off to […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Perry, Murray State take down Illinois State 70-67 in OT

MURRAY, Ky. (AP) — Rob Perry scored 20 points, including five in the overtime, as Murray State took down Illinois State 70-67 on Thursday night. Perry was 6 of 13 shooting, including 4 for 8 from distance, and went 4 for 4 from the line for the Racers (4-3). Jamari Smith scored 16 points, shooting […]
23 hours ago
Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) and Seattle Kraken center Yanni Gourde fight during ...
Associated Press

Matty Beniers scores in OT, Kraken rally past Capitals 3-2

SEATTLE (AP) — Jaden Schwartz was grabbing a drink of water when he looked up and saw Matty Beniers breaking in alone on goal. Seattle’s rookie wasted no time sending the Kraken to their seventh straight victory. “I looked up and he was on a breakaway. It happened fast, but they were hungry off the […]
23 hours ago
Oregon State guard Donovan Grant, right, hugs Dexter Akanno while celebrating the team's 66-65 win ...
Associated Press

Oregon St. ends 4-game skid, edges UW in Pac-12 opener

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Dzmitry Ryuny had 14 points, Dexter Akanno scored the last three points and Oregon State held off Washington for a 66-65 win on Thursday night in a Pac-12 Conference opener. Akanno converted a three-point play with 8.2 seconds remaining. Keion Brooks missed a 3 for Washington to end it. Brooks scored […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Sharp scores 34 as Northwestern State beats SFA 102-96

Demarcus Sharp’s 34 points led Northwestern State over SFA 102-96 on Thursday. The Demons outscored the Lumberjacks 71-63 in the second half. Sharp was 16 of 17 from the foul line had seven assists for the Demons (6-2). Reggie Hill scored 17 points while going 7 of 8 (2 for 3 from distance), and added […]
23 hours ago
Harris English maintains 2-stroke lead at TPC Southwind