ATLANTA – Harris English had found plenty of ways to derail his East Lake aspirations.
In 2013, he played his last three rounds of the season at the BMW Championship in 4 over par to finish 31st on the FedEx Cup list, just 26 points outside the top 30 and his first trip to the Tour Championship.
Last year, it was missed cuts at his first two postseason stops that cost him a trip to Atlanta when he finished 32nd on the point list.
So when he teed off at the BMW Championship again perched on the East Lake bubble at 32nd, it must have felt like a dreaded bout of déjà vu.
But English responded at Conway Farms, grabbing the 30th and final spot in the finale with a birdie at the 72nd hole.
“I think it was the most important thing in his career,” said Scott Hamilton, English’s swing coach. “It could be a huge turning point in his career, honestly. He can set his schedule now.”
Advancing to East Lake qualifies English for the Masters, as well as many of the season’s top events, and Hamilton said his East Lake breakthrough wasn’t an accident.
English met with a statistician last week in Chicago that stressed the importance of playing smart and avoiding tactical errors. The result was a week at Conway Farms that included just one score worse than bogey (a double bogey-5 at the second hole on Sunday) and plenty of consistent play.
“He’s one of those guys who has had so much expectation on him, he has to grow into his game,” Hamilton said. “He’s starting to accept he hits it a long way and you’re not going to hit every fairway.”