Harris English overcame a shaky start, then took advantage of a late collapse by fellow American Scott Stallings to clinch his maiden PGA Tour title with a two-shot victory at the St Jude Classic in Memphis on Sunday.
The 23-year-old English birdied two of the last three holes at the TPC Southwind to close with a one-under-par 69, ending a roller-coaster final round where he and Stallings had dueled back and forth for the lead.
Stallings, the 2003 Red Ryan CYO Intermediate champion at Derryfield CC in Manchester, N.H., and four-time major champion Phil Mickelson tied for second, two strokes back.
A curling 17-foot birdie putt at the 17th put English two strokes ahead and he safely parred the final hole to post a 12-under total of 268 in the final PGA Tour event before next week's U.S. Open.
Stallings had been two ahead when he hit his wedge approach into water at the 15th en route to a damaging double-bogey six and had to settle for a share of second place after bogeying the 18th for a 68.
Park wins LPGA
Park Inbee of South Korea won the LPGA Championship in a sudden death playoff against Catriona Matthew of Britain on Sunday, giving her victories in the first two women’s major championships of the year.
Park won on the third hole of the playoff at Locust Hill Country Club outside Rochester, N.Y., with a birdie on the par-four 18th hole after both parred the first two sudden-death holes.
The two golfers, who tied at five-under-par 283 after regulation, played 39 holes in a marathon finishing day at the weather-delayed championship, playing the third and fourth rounds on Sunday and then the three-hole playoff.
English, whose previous best finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for fifth at last year's Crowne Plaza Invitational, mixed six birdies with five bogeys as the leaderboard fluctuated wildly in the final round.
PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani began the day with a one-stroke advantage but bogeyed the opening hole and he never recovered on the way to a closing 76 and a tie for seventh at six under.
Though English faltered at the par-four second where he missed the green with his approach, he immediately rebounded with birdies at the third and fourth to edge a stroke front.
However, he then slid backwards with bogeys at the fifth, eighth and ninth to hand Stallings a two-stroke advantage.
Stallings had charged up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine, a 25-footer at the ninth giving him the outright lead for the first time.
English briefly cut the lead to one after making birdies at the 10th and 11th before surprisingly stumbling with a three-putt bogey at the par-four 13th.
Stallings appeared to be in cruise control as he started the back nine with five consecutive pars but stunningly double-bogeyed the 15th after hitting his second shot into water to drop back into a tie with English.
Stallings bounced back with a birdie at the par-five 16th, getting up and down from a greenside bunker, to regain a one-stroke cushion before being caught in a tie at the top.
English, playing in the group behind, also birdied the 16th after reaching the green in two and two-putting to join Stallings at 11 under.
Stallings then bogeyed the last after missing the green to the right with his approach and hitting his chip shot fat for his ball to get no further than the fringe. Now one ahead, English effectively secured the title with his birdie at 17. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)