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English shoots 60, leads British Open qualifiers

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FORT WORTH, Texas – On Monday at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas, Harris English proved two points – that he could rebound from a difficult weekend at The Players Championship and that he’s quickly becoming the rookie to watch this year on the PGA Tour.

English scorched the Gleneagles layout with a first-round 60 that included six consecutive birdies on the front nine and an inward loop of 31to lead the field at the International Final Qualifier (America) for this year’s British Open.

English, who in 14 starts this year has missed just three cuts and has five top-25 finishes, followed that round with a 7-under 63 to cruise to medalist honors and lead the group of eight qualifiers who earned spots in July at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Englishman Greg Owen finished alone in second place at 13 under, four strokes behind English, followed by Stephen Ames, Andres Romero and Justin Hicks. The final three spots were decided in a four-players-for-three-spots playoff with Bob Estes, Daniel Chopra and James Driscoll advancing.

For English – who was bogey free on Monday – his play proved he could move on following a 79-77 weekend at TPC Sawgrass two weeks ago. English was a stroke out of the lead after 54 holes at The Players but hit a fan with his opening drive on Sunday and never recovered.

“It’s something we talked about. I told him, ‘Look, your 22 years old. You have to figure out how to learn from this and how you’re going to deal with your emotions,’” said Mike Taylor, English’s swing coach. “I asked him (after The Players), ‘What did you learn? What was it like playing with (eventual champion Matt) Kuchar?’ He said, ‘Nothing rattled him. He stayed clam the entire day.’”

Nothing rattled English on Monday thanks in large part to a makeover to his golf bag last week. After The Players, English went home to Sea Island, Ga., and began testing new wedges, deciding to add a fourth wedge to his bag for the qualifier.

“I think that helped because he’s been driving the ball so well and a lot of approach shots he’s been struggling with in-between shots,” said Taylor, who added that English removed his 4-iron from his bag and weakened the loft on his 3-iron to fill the gap.