Monday, May 21, 2012
Harris English in the British Open
ESPN.com news services
PLANO, Texas -- PGA Tour rookie Harris English shot a course best and International Finals America qualifying record 60 and easily qualified for the British Open on Monday.
English shot a 63 in the afternoon in the par 70 Queens Course at Gleneagles Country Club, just outside of Dallas, for a 123 total, to snag one of the eight available spots for the Open from July 19-22 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
Harris English plays a tee shot on the 18th hole during The Open Championship International Final Qualifying America.
The 60 was the lowest 18-hole qualifying score since the R&A began holding qualifying in the United States in 2004. Records were incomplete if it was the lowest 18-hole score ever shot in British Open qualifying.
"It was a very relaxing round. I just lost track on what I was doing," said English, whose best PGA Tour finish was a tie for 16th in Mayakoba, Mexico, earlier in the year. "It's pretty amazing."
He had eight birdies and one eagle on the par-5 10th hole in his record morning round, plus seven birdies in the afternoon.
Fred Couples' 62 in 2005 was the previous course record.
English, 22, said he was unaware of his record score until his caddy told him after making another birdie, his seventh, on his closing hole with a 20-foot birdie putt.
"It certainly was a nice surprise," English said.
Also qualifying for the Open was England's Greg Owen, who shot 66-61-127 and Canadian Stephen Ames who shot a morning 69, but rebounded with an afternoon 61 for a 130 total.
"I was ready to walk off when I looked at the numbers and I went, 'You know what? If after nine holes we don't have it four or five under, we're going home,' " Ames said. "After nine holes, we were five under."
Ames birdied four straight holes -- Nos. 16, 17, 18 and 1. He started his round at No. 9 (groups started at either No. 10 or No. 1 for the qualifier) and it didn't take him long to get things going. He had an eagle at No. 10, making a 25-foot putt from the fringe.
Ames ended up with eight birdies, the eagle and a bogey.
He was excited about returning to the British Open, his favorite tournament. Ames has had his name on the front page of the leaderboard a few times at the British Open. He's played in 10 British Opens and his best finish was a tie for fifth in 1997. His other top 10 was a tie for seventh in 2008. He hasn't played in the event since 2009. Ames last played in the Open at Royal Lytham in 1996. He finished tied for 55th.
"For me the highlight of playing professional golf is playing the British Open," said Ames, who lives in Canada. "It's by far the best, I think. I don't think anything else comes close."
For Owen, it will be an emotional homecoming as he grew up in Nottingham, 90 minutes south of Lytham.
"I haven't been home in a long while and it will be nice to see my family and for them to see their grandchildren," he said.
Owen played in the 2001 Open at Royal Lytham where he tied for 23rd.
American Justin Hicks (67-63-130) and Argentina's Andres Romero (67-63-130) also qualified.
There was a four-way playoff for the final three spots between Americans James Driscoll (66-65-131) and Bob Estes (66-65), Scotland's Russell Knox (65-66) and Sweden's Daniel Chopra (64-67). Estes made birdie on the first playoff hole to qualify for his 11th British Open. Chopra and Driscoll made pars on the second playoff hole while Knox was eliminated.
Among those missing out was two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (65-71-136).
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.