Jan 11th, 2021
Harris English wins the Tournament of Champions
American beats Chile's Joaquin Niemann in a playoff
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
English who only qualified for the event by way of a special one-year invitation to players who reached the 2020 Tour Championship took advantage for his first win since his victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in 2013.
"It feels amazing," said English. "All the hard work that has gone into this, all the highs and lows of golf that it brings over a career and I feel like I've gotten out of my valley."
Harris who started the day tied at the top with fellow countryman Ryan Palmer fired a final-round four-under-par 69 to join Niemann in the playoff. Ryan could only muster a two-under as the wind got up on the final day and finished alone in fourth.
Niemann had the round of the day, the twenty-two-year-old Chilean finding six birdies on the front nine in his nine-under round of 64. The world number forty-three came up just short in his search for his second PGA Tour title.
"I mean, if you asked me at the beginning of the round I'm going to be in a playoff, I would probably take it," said Niemann.
"But, yeah, the way I was playing the whole week and the way I played today, and then I just look back and I see those two par-5s I made par. But, yeah, I mean it is what it is."
English had a great chance to win the event in normal time when he hit his second into the final green to some six feet. Sadly, his eagle effort didn't even touch the hole and so it went to extra holes.
English found the 18th green in two again as Niemann found an awkward spot in the greenside rough. The man from Chile could only find the fringe with his pitch and missed the eighteen-foot birdie effort leaving English to hole from six feet for the win.
Defending champion Justin Thomas came up one shot shy as he closed with a seven-under 66 to finish alone in third. The American admitted that his mind was not totally on his game following the controversy of Saturday.
"It definitely was a distraction out there today. But now I just get to take time going forward and try to become better because of it." said Thomas, who rued an expensive bogie at his penultimate hole.
American Ryan Palmer finished one stroke behind Thomas in fourth with countryman Xander Schauffele and South Korean Im Sung-jae a further two shots back in a share of fifth on twenty-one-under.