January 10, 2021
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, USA
Plantation Course at Kapalua
LAURA VESCOVI: We would like to welcome Harris English to the interview room. Harris, congratulations on your win. You're now the champion of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Talk to us about your emotion on this win.
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, pretty incredible. I mean, obviously put myself in pretty good position all week and I just know you don't get that many chances like that to convert and you got to do it. It's really hard to win out here on TOUR. I knew coming in today, yeah, the wind was up a little bit, but I definitely could see somebody shooting 7-, 8-, 9-under today and Joaquin did that and chased us down and he played an incredible round of golf. I mean, I feel like the wind was up pretty good and it was tricky out there.
And, but coming down 18, I knew I needed to make birdie and hit a really good 3-iron and thought I was going to close it out during regulation and barely missed the putt, but hit a good putt and knew I was putting well all week. I was hitting the ball well all week, and just keep doing what I'm doing and had a great 2-putt on the playoff. And obviously I was pretty nervous over that putt, but it broke a little left, so I just played it inside right and hitting it firm and here I am.
But it feels amazing. 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 and getting back to the tournaments and some of the quality of golf that I know I can play. And it feels great to have some validation out there on the golf course.
LAURA VESCOVI: Can you tell us what club you hit on 13?
HARRIS ENGLISH: 13 was an 8-iron. The wind was really whipping in our face and I think I had 141 yards, so I just hit a little easy 8-iron taking probably 10 yards off of it. My full 8-iron goes about 170, so I was probably trying to hit it about 160 thinking the wind was going to hit it probably 15, 20 yards and it did. It looked like it was pretty close to going in, but anytime you can get little tap-ins like that for birdie out here you got to take them.
LAURA VESCOVI: We'll start opening it up to questions.
Q. I wanted to ask, it must have been fun to be nervous again, but I wonder if you could just talk about how you felt in your tummy and in your head coming down the stretch. Were you surprised at all if you felt calm enough to overcome a missed chance at 18 and keep playing strong, that kind of stuff?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, I mean, I was not very happy after No. 16. That was a pretty good birdie opportunity and felt like I hit a decent shot. I pulled it a little bit. I mean, I had an upslope and you kind of tend to do that when you're on an upslope like that. But I didn't think I could hit that club over the green and that's a pretty bad bogey at that time. I wouldn't say it was nerves at all. It was just a bad shot.
But I knew I was playing really well. I played really well on the back nine to get myself back in the tournament. I knew Joaqo and Justin were making a run and I needed to do something and I love being in those situations. I mean, I love, even when I was a kid, loved having the ball when the clock's running out in basketball, like, I love, I love the situations and I kind of crave getting back into that. I hadn't had it in a long time. I had it a little bit at the QBE Shoot-Out, playing with Kuchar, I mean, even though it was a much smaller scale than this, you're still feeling nervous and you still have to hit some quality golf shots down the stretch. And I feel like that kind of got me over the hump of finally getting a win like that and knowing I can do it under the gun. And hit an incredible 3-iron coming into 18. I kind of learned from my shot yesterday that I pulled a little bit coming into yesterday, so I aimed a little further right and kind of let the wind take it right-to-left and hit, I mean, couldn't have hit it in I better than I did coming down the stretch on 18 in regulation. Hit a good putt. I knew I was putting good all week. You just got to lean on it. You've got to have confidence in yourself.
Q. What did you hit on the second on 18 in the playoff? What club was that?
HARRIS ENGLISH: 3-iron again. I hit it both in regulation and in the playoff. The playoff I was about five yards further in.
Q. What were you feeling like as you went to the 11th tee? I think at that time you were even par and everybody else was just moving all about you. What was your emotions like at 11?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, I knew I needed to make a run. That back nine lends itself to some birdies. You have, I wouldn't say 11 is necessarily a birdie hole, but I hit a really good shot in there, and 12's a birdie hole, having a wedge in there. 13, if you hit some good shots can be a birdie hole. Then 14, 15, I knew you could get on a run on the back nine. I had kind of been telling myself all week, you got to stay patient out here. And the wind was tricky. I mean, it was tough to get in there close, even on putts. Normal 8-footer you have to play the wind out there.
But I felt good. As I said earlier, I love being in those situations. I knew I needed to get it rolling, and that putt on 11 kind of opened the flood gates of, then I could start seeing everything go in and you get some momentum and you can do anything.
Q. In the last couple years, your struggles, what kept you confident that you could return to this place again?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, it's just kind of the team around me at Sea Island, with, obviously, my agent kind of heading things up, but Justin Parsons has been an unbelievable help at home getting me back on track. Even the gym work with Tom Hemmings. It's kind of a whole package that I've gotten a lot better about consistency-wise of when I go back home, I'm practicing a good bit, I'm working on my stuff, I'm working out, trying to do stuff in the gym that helps me, helps my faults in my swing.
My coach and my trainer are talking a lot and they're friends and everybody's helping me out and everybody's keeping me on track and it's been an incredible journey thus far. I mean, I've kind of had the whole team in place for probably a year and a half or two years and the results started really coming, and you just got to let it go. I mean, my coach is kind of a little bit of a sports psychologist, as well, of keeping me on track and we kind of break down the days just like a football game. Four quarters, play your quarter really well, do all I can do that day and move on to the next. And I feel like I've done a great job of that this week. In the past few months I've had some struggles on Saturday, but I overcame that this week and I knew I had to come out and play really well and I did that. It's been an awesome ride.
Q. You mentioned the valleys before. Just curious, what was the lowest point maybe for you the last seven years and how often did you kind of find yourself questioning that you would get back to this point?
HARRIS ENGLISH: I'll say probably the most disappointed I was playing the Korn Ferry finals up at Victoria National, and I had it in my hands of getting my card back. And I don't know what happened on the last three or four holes, I just, I didn't do it, and that was very shocking to me of, it hadn't happened a whole lot in my career where I had opportunities like that and I just let them slip away. So that was tough.
But I worked with my coach the next week and he was telling me how good I was playing and the opportunities I had coming up and he kind of flipped the script of I could sit there and feel sorry for myself or I could say, Hey, I'm playing really good golf. I know I didn't keep my card, but here are the opportunities I have coming up and I got to seize them. And he kind of helped me do that, helped me flip the script of being confident and being positive. I feel like they've helped me a lot with that.
So it's kind of come full circle of I feel like I know a lot more about how I should practice, how I should play, how I should train more now than I did when I was younger. And everybody says the more experience you have, the better, and I feel like I'm way more of an experienced player now than I was when I was a kid and understand how much work it takes out here to compete week-in and week-out and just being a true professional. I feel like I've done a better job of that and the results have paid off.
Q. You're not the only one who's broken a pretty significant win drought this season. Any reason why you think that is that a few guys who have been six, seven years without wins have got it done?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, it's tough to say. I mean, you definitely have some inspiration out here from guys. I like seeing my friends win and it helps propel me of, hey, if they can do it again, I can do it.
I think we all, especially the Sea Island guys, we all play a lot together, practice a lot together and we each push each other to play better. I don't know, you kind of -- this game, it's hard to sustain great play for a long time, I've realized that and it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole of trying to search a lot, search to get better.
I mean because, every week you play with somebody that you might think does this better, does that better, but you are who you are and you can get better at what you do. And that's what I've learned of not to go up-and-down the range of saying, I need to be like Dustin or Justin Thomas or Xander Schauffele, I need to be the best version of myself and do the things I do well and always work at it.
I feel like I've gotten a lot better at doing that and my coach back home has really kept me on track.
Q. I'm guessing you're pretty happy with the change of eligibility for this tournament this year.
HARRIS ENGLISH: Obviously, yes. I saw that -- I think they came out with that change right when we came back to play at Colonial. And year after year my goal's to make the TOUR Championship. Obviously getting back to East Lake -- I went to school in Athens, I love staying in Atlanta, but that was just icing on the cake of getting back to the Tournament of Champions and I kind of felt lucky to be here.
I would say I deserve to be here, some other guys got in as well playing in the TOUR Championship, but I definitely, I hadn't been here in a long time, I love this place and happy to say that I get to come back again next year.
Q. What were your goals coming into this year and how does getting this victory so early change them?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, I mean my goal really this year is to play on the Ryder Cup team. Steve Stricker is one of my favorite people out here on TOUR and I feel like that's something I haven't done yet. I loved playing college golf, I love playing with a team like that. And playing in that QBE Shoot-Out is a lot of fun for me of getting to share that experience with somebody else and team golf is so much fun and that's something I haven't achieved yet in golf. And been out here for 10 years and that's kind of the pinnacle of our sport is playing for your country in either the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup. And I would love to play for Strick.
Just to have a different experience, I mean you play against these guys on PGA TOUR every year, but I've heard the Ryder Cup is such a fun experience and I want to be a part of it.
Obviously winning, getting back in the winner's circle was a goal and, but I didn't want to force it. I mean, I know how hard it is to win out here on the PGA TOUR and I knew that if I kept giving myself opportunities to pull it off that I could do it.
I love being in that situation coming down the last nine holes and knowing what you have to do. I love having that. And it was a lot of fun today. The shot I hit into 18 was awesome, I can really feed off that for years to come and being able to do stuff like that when you're under the gun is so much fun to do. So it's so fulfilling.
Q. Of the four majors, which do you think your game's most geared best for?
HARRIS ENGLISH: I would say, I haven't played Kiawah yet, but I really love The Open Championship. I love that style of golf. I love it playing hard. I mean, I loved being in the moment or in the -- had a chance to win the U.S. Open, I felt like, until Bryson ran away with it.
I feel like those types of setups really help me out. I mean shooting -- I don't even know what I shot this week -- 25-under, is not normal for me to go on birdiefests like that. I love it playing hard where a couple under is a good round.
So I would say U.S. Open, I love Torrey Pines. I haven't played Royal St. George's, but I'm excited to get back over there. Excited to play Kiawah. And then obviously kind of the backyard in Augusta. I mean, that's the one I have probably wanted to win the most since I was a kid. I need to get up there for some more practice rounds to learn from some guys, hopefully play with some veterans during some practice rounds and learn all I can, because I think the more experience you have at Augusta the better off you are.
Q. It reminds me a little bit of Hal Sutton, your slump or your bad play was not nearly as deep as his, but I remember when Hal came back from it there was part of him that just wanted to make sure that he stayed on such a straight and narrow path to make sure he didn't fall into what got him into a bad spot in the first place. If you think back to your start in 2013, what happened and where you are now, how much of you are, is determined to go forward?
HARRIS ENGLISH: Yeah, I'm not satisfied, I'm still not satisfied with where I'm at in the game, there's still a lot more that I want to accomplish. And to your point, yeah, I mean, I feel the same way that Hal does, that hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg of me getting better and better and hopefully having a chance to win a lot more tournaments.
And really, really since COVID I felt like you could use COVID, the quarantine period where we didn't play golf for eight weeks of, you could either hang out and relax or you could use that time to get better and work on your game and work on your body.
And I feel like I worked really hard during that time period and came out playing some really good golf and kind of kept rolling. I feel like when I go home I don't really like sitting around, I love trying to get better, because I know there's guys out here that work just as hard or harder than I do at this game. And those are the guys that I want to compete with, those are the guys that I want to beat out here on TOUR.
So I feel like every time I'm at home not working on something I'm getting worse. So I love the grind of the game, I love figuring out the game and I love trying to get better.
Q. And I have to ask you from a personality standpoint, as a guy who is spent his entire life not getting bothered by pretty much anything, what were you like during that, during some of those, that like two-year lull, that two-year bad stretch? Were you okay to be around as a rule?
HARRIS ENGLISH: I would say stuff -- one bad shot would unravel me, because you get to a point where you're trying to get over the hump, you're trying to get on the other side of your lull and one bad shot is like, here we go again, here, I'm back in the same spot, I'm not getting any better.
But it's really tough to get out of it. It takes awhile. It's a slow process of building up your confidence at home, playing with your buddies, playing money games back at Sea Island, to then putting it in play on the PGA TOUR. And once you start stacking up rounds, stacking up pressure-packed shots, I think the confidence comes quickly and it's been there for a long time and it's nice to get over the hump of doing it and finally getting a win out here.
LAURA VESCOVI: Thank you very much, Harris, congratulations again.
HARRIS ENGLISH: Thank you.
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