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English captures first PGA Tour title in Memphis

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Harris English birdied two of the last three holes to steer clear of hard-charging Phil Mickelson and free-falling Scott Stallings and win the Fedex St. Jude Classic on Sunday. Here is the skinny from the final round at TPC Southwind: 

The leaderboard: English (-12), Mickelson and Stallings at -10, Ryan Palmer (-9), Patrick Reed (-8)

What it means: It’s the first of what could be many PGA Tour titles for English, who turns 24 next month. A four-time All-American at Georgia, English has wowed observers with his potential since his rookie season last year. This season, he had three top 10s before breaking through in Memphis. In the final round he mixed six birdies with five bogeys – yes, five – as he earned a spot in next year’s Masters. 

Round of the day: Mickelson nearly holed his approach on 18, but he came up two shots short after a final-round 67 that included two ill-timed bogeys. Still, it was an encouraging major tune-up for Lefty, who heads to Merion as a five-time U.S. Open runner-up.

Best of the rest: Just days after a marathon playoff loss at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier, Ryan Palmer shot a final-round 67 that could have been lower. Meanwhile, Gary Woodland carded the low round of the day (6-under 64) that vaulted him 46 spots up the leaderboard, to T-18. It was one shot shy of his career best, a 63 at the ’09 Mayakoba Golf Classic

Biggest disappointment: Stallings was cruising along with a three-shot lead on the back nine, but he chunked his approach on 15, leading to a double bogey, and flubbed his chip behind 18 green to fall two shots short. Honorable mention goes to 54-hole leader Shawn Stefani, who made only one birdie during a final-round 76 that sent him tumbling to T-7.

Shot of the day: One shot clear after Stallings bogeyed the 72nd hole, English holed a 17-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to play the last with a two-shot cushion.

Quote of the day: “It was close all week. I was feeling good about my ball-striking and just had to get those putts to fall. I stuck with it and made some good birdies coming in.” – English