Imagine celebrating your 22nd birthday Saturday, making a 10-foot birdie putt for $144,000 on Sunday, then knowing Monday not a single cent would go into your bank account.
That was the weekend Harris English had on the Nationwide Tour at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, where just weeks after graduating from the University of Georgia, he shot a tournament-record 14 under to take a one-shot victory over Kyle Reifers and fellow amateur John Peterson.
As an amateur English, of course, can’t accept the winner’s check, but what can accept is an invitation to join the Nationwide Tour for the rest of this season and next – which certainly isn't the worst consolation prize in the world.
Tour policy dictates his winnings spill down to the highest professional on the leaderboard. So, likewise, the cash did not go in amateur Peterson’s wallet, but rather all to Reifers.
This marks only the seventh time amateur players have finished tied for second or better in Nationwide Tour history, and just the third time an amateur has ever won. English joins fellow Bulldog Russell Henley, who won earlier this year at the Stadion Classic at UGA, and Daniel Summerhays, who won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, circa 2007.
Where is this sudden youth movement coming from?
UGA coach Chris Haack certainly should deserve some credit for shaping two players to compete, contend, and win on the official proving ground of the PGA Tour. He should also receive some praise for convincing these kids that it’s not all about the money and that the professional ranks can wait as you let a decorated amateur career play its final swan song.
English is now in prime position to be named to Team USA to travel to Great Britain and Ireland later this summer for the Walker Cup. And he’s already competing in the Porter Cup next weekend in upstate New York. This should also boost his confidence as he prepares for the U.S. Amateur at the end of August where Peter Uihlein, who will be a senior at Oklahoma State, will defend his title.
Speaking of, amateur hour didn’t just end last weekend with English and Peterson. Uihlein tied for ninth in Ohio, and 17-year-old Jordan Spieth, who contended each of the last two years at the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, won his second U.S. Junior Amateur to become just the second player in the championship’s 64-year history to win multiple titles. The other one was Tiger Woods.