Playoff birdie does the trick for Harris English in Hawaii
Kapalua — Harris English, who birdied five of the last eight holes to get into a playoff, won the Sentry Tournament of Champions over Joaquin Niemann with a birdie on the first extra hole on Sunday in Kapalua, Hawaii.
The American was the third-round co-leader at 21-under, but he was even par through 11 holes on the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui and had to chase down Niemann, who closed with a 64.
English nearly won it on the final hole after drawing his second shot to about 10 feet of the cup on the par-five 18th. He missed the eagle putt but tapped in for birdie to close at four-under 69 for the day and 25-under for the tournament.
Back on 18 for the playoff, he wrapped up his first PGA Tour win since 2013 with a six-footer for birdie. Niemann had already missed a putt from the fringe after pulling his approach shot.
“It’s incredible. A lot of hard work over the years,” English told the Golf Channel. “You never think you’re going to get here again. It’s hard to win out here. Had a really good chance this week, and felt good about my game, and you just have to get it done.”
It was the third career victory for the 31-year-old English, who began the week 29th in the world golf ranking. It has been a long climb back after falling to 369th in September 2019.
“I built a great team around me and they pushed me, helped me get to where I am right now,” he said. “Nobody has even given up; nobody has lost faith or hope in my golf game. That’s been awesome. It makes what happened today that much sweeter.”
Justin Thomas finished a shot out of the playoff after a final-round 66. He had eight birdies on the day but had a costly three-putt from 55 feet on the par-four 17th. Ryan Palmer, who began the day as the co-leader with English, finished fourth at 23-under after an errant tee shot on the par-three 11th lead to a double bogey. He shot 71 on Sunday.
Xander Schauffele (66) and Sungjae Im (69) tied for fifth at 21-under. Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since winning the Masters in November, charged to a five-under 31 on the front nine before being derailed by a double-bogey on the par-four 12th. He ended with a 69, tied for 11th at 18-under, snapping a streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes.
The Tournament of Champions is usually reserved for winners from the previous year but the field was expanded in 2021 to include all qualifiers for the Tour Championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down the PGA Tour last (northern hemisphere) summer.
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