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February 20, 2014

Harris English


LAURA NEAL:  We'd like to welcome Harris English to the interview room.  Harris you took out Lee Westwood in round one and then Rory McIlroy today.  It took a couple of holes to do so.  Talk to us about your match and taking down McIlroy.
HARRIS ENGLISH:  I knew it was going to be a battle coming in.  Rory is an unbelievable player, and has seemed to have found his game the last couple of months.  I knew going into it I was going to have to bring my "A" game and put a lot of pressure on him to end up taking the victory.
I was 2‑up with 5 to play, and then turned down I was 1‑down and 2 to play.  It was a little wake up call.
Rory hit some really good shots.  That shot he hit on 16 was unbelievable.  I was thinking to myself it was going to be a good par hole.  215 yards to the flag and blowing really good in our face.  But he stands up there and hits it five feet.  I was like, all right, here we go.
I knew I had to do something on 17 and 18.  I hit a really good drive on 17.  Didn't hit my wedge shot quite like I wanted to, but left myself with a decent look at it and poured it right in the center.
But it was an awesome match.  This is kind of what you play for, and to both be playing pretty well and then grinding it out.

Q.  I think you and Rory were paired together at Honda a couple of years when you were a rookie.  First of all, was that your first time in the final group?  And second, I think things went much better for him than they did for you that day.  What much did you take away from that?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  That was huge not only playing Rory, but to my development as a player.  That was my sixth tournament on the PGA Tour, and I played really well Thursday and Friday and Saturday and found myself in the final group on Sunday, which I had never really been before.  And especially playing with somebody like Rory, who was vying for No.1 in the world and was playing better than anybody.
I was playing good, but I kind of got out of my element.  I didn't really know how to handle the middle part of all the people and the cameras.  So even though I didn't play very well, and I took a lot from it and took the positives and I think it's made me into a much better player.

Q.  The galleries, obviously today it was a pretty big group following Rory.  A lot of them cheering pretty hard for him.  What's it's like being the underdog in that situation?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  It's fun.  I knew coming into it I'm the 9 seed and Rory is the 1 seed.  Obviously he's been No.1 in the world.  I kind of knew what I was up against.  I definitely had some Harris cheers out there, but not as many as Rory, which is fine.  I know he's not really making them do that or whatever.  But it is kind of cool being the underdog.  I know how some of these basketball teams feel going into the March madness when they're up against bigger teams with a bigger player.  And I kind of know how that feels.

Q.  Back to the Honda Classic, how are you a different player now?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  Just mentally.  I kind of feel I belong now.  Back at the Honda, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into.  I knew I could play.  I knew I could probably play with the best players in the world on the biggest stages, but I didn't really know how to do it or to finish it off.  And I didn't finish it off that way at the Honda.  I was definitely playing well.  I deserved to be in the last group.  But it was almost like I was trying to get out of Rory's way, instead of playing my game and then trying to win the tournament.
I've learned so much about myself and really how to handle the situations and to breathe better and walk slower and eat more and drink more water.  Just little things that‑‑ having Brian Smith on the bag a couple of months ago, he started working for me at The PLAYERS, it's been unbelievable to have the experience he brings along to the team of over 20 years working on the PGA Tour.  So I think it's the combination of all things.

Q.  Was that the first time you and Rory had met, how close are you now?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  Pretty close.  I don't see Rory a lot, but he's been super nice to me every time.
The Honda was the first time I ever met him.  We talked about the Walker Cup, and things that come along with being a 22 or 23‑year‑old.  He's a great guy, great ambassador for the game, and obviously an unbelievable player.

Q.  Jim Furyk tomorrow, he's a former University of Arizona player?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  I'm sure there will be a lot of wildcat fans for him cheering for him tomorrow.  Jim is a veteran.  He's been out here for a while, unbelievable match play player.  Played in a lot of Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups.  He definitely knows what he's going knows what he's doing.  Every match, no maltier if it's the first match or the fourth match, you're going to have a tough one.  You have to bring your "A" game, and I know what I'm up against.

Q.  I followed an earlier match and it seemed like the wind was changing around?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  Yeah, it's tough, because it would be gusting one minute, and the next minute it wouldn't be blowing at all.  It's really tough to gauge.  I'm hitting down some of those elevations makes it really tough.  Little gusts here or there could mean ten or 15 yards.  I felt I got gusts pretty good on 16.  I hit a decent shot, I didn't catch it at all, but 30 yards short of the flag.  Should have gotten it up and down, but it was tough out there.  The wind was definitely harder.

Q.  And secondly, you were kind of cruising on the back nine (inaudible.)  How do you keep it together?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  Yeah, I knew it was going to come.  He gave me No. 11, the par‑5.  He hit it in the desert a couple of times.  And pretty much gave me 13.  I knew he was playing well, and he was going to keep coming.
And obviously on 14, hit it five feet.  15, got up and down, chipped it to a foot or two.  And then the shot on 16 he hit was unbelievable.  That's a par hole, and he hit an unbelievable 4‑iron to about five feet.  I knew it was coming.  I knew I had to bare down.  The match wasn't over.  And I pretty much needed to make some birdies to keep up with him.

Q.  You talked about the improvements in your mental game, but what's been the best part of your golf game this season that's been so consistent?
HARRIS ENGLISH:  I've become a lot better chipper and putter, scrambler.  I feel like I've always been a good ball‑striker, and I really worked hard, worked with Roger Cleveland at Callaway, and switched to a Two‑Ball Putter.  It worked out.  I felt confident on the greens today, especially in match play.  If you can make those five and six footers you're going to be a tough match.  And that's how I looked at it this week.  I worked hard on my putting and chipping and it's worked out.
LAURA NEAL:  Thanks for your time, Harris, good luck tomorrow.

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