CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) – Harris English was tired after six and a half hours. His hamstrings hurt. His back hurt. After 80 holes in 80 degrees heat, he had trouble concentrating. Darkness became a factor. He lost count of how many holes he had played.
“It’s hard to keep up mentally,” said English on Sunday after winning an eight-hole playoff – the second-longest sudden death in PGA Tour history – to beat Kramer Hickok and the Travelers Championship to win.
“Hats off to him for a good fight,” said English, who shot a 5-under 65 to finish 13 under and then ripped off seven pars in the playoff before pounding a 16-foot birdie putt for the win. “We both joked that someday someone would have to do a birdie. I had this putt a few times and finally read it correctly. “
Both players screwed the last hole in the regulation to force the playoff, which came second after the 11-hole sudden death at the 1949 Motor City Open when Lloyd Mangrum and Cary Middlecoff agreed to the co- Winners have been declared. Four more events have hit an eighth sudden death hole.
The eight-hole playoff was a record for the tournament, which went seven holes in 1961 (Ted Kroll) and ’62 (Bob Goalby) when it was known as the Insurance City Open.
It was the second win that year and the fourth career win for Englishmen, who finished third at the US Open last week – and fourth at the US Open in September, delayed by the pandemic. He won $ 1,368,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points, moving up to second place overall.
English sank a 28-footer on the 72nd hole to get out of a three-way tie and finish at 13 under. Then he went to the range to keep warm in case Hickock, who was minus 12 and had two holes to play, could catch up with him.
The 29-year-old Texan, who had never won the PGA Tour, failed to complete a 39-foot birdie putt on the 17th, but hit a 9-foot birdie at # 18 to keep up with English .
They played 18 again – twice – and parried again – twice. Go to number 17, then 18, then 17, then 18, then again 18: all pars. Hickok made two long birdie putts that would have won him; On the sixth playoff hole, the Englishman missed a seven-foot birdie putt to win.
The crowd on the 18th green chanted “Kramer!” And made the wave as they waited for the golfers to swing back and forth to tee off. On the final trip over the 438-yard par-4 – the seventh of the day and the 10th of the weekend – Hickok made his second shot 28 feet from the pin and made two putti.
English landed his approach 16 feet away and made birdie.
“I don’t know how many there were,” said English later. “That was incredible. What an experience and the fans were great. They are always great here in Hartford and happy that we can put them on a little show at the end. “
Hickok has never won on the PGA Tour. Second place was his all-time best result, beating a tie for eighth place in the 2018 Bermuda Championship, which was his only other time in the top 10.
“I’ve learned that I belong,” said Hickok, who was joined by his wife and puppy Elvis after the round. “It was a huge learning experience for me.”
Four players were tied at 12 after Bubba Watson missed the 14th bogey. But the three-time Travelers winner played the final five holes at six to end the chase.
“I’m glad I was there, had the opportunity,” said Watson. “You know, I would love to do it again next week, throw up again. It would be great. I want the chance and the chance to win. “
Watson’s breakdown left Hickok – his 54-hole co-leader – on top at 12 under, with English and Marc Leishman, who had finished his lap two hours earlier with a 64.
English finished the fourth round of birdie-bogey-birdie, hopping for the ball and pumping his fist down the last hole of regulation. Hickok’s celebration was even more emphatic.
But there was still a playoff to come.
“I never thought that I would play 27 holes today,” said Hickok. “I was just trying to put as much pressure on him as possible. He tried to do the same. I got him in awkward situations, he got me in some too, and he turned out to be the winner today, and that’s a true champion. “
Leishman won the 2012 tournament, shot a 62 on Sunday, came six strokes back and took his first career win on the tour. This year he shot 64 in the finals and was in the clubhouse for several hours with 12 among the front runners, but contented himself with third place.
With many low values on Sunday and all the leaders still on the track, he felt that it wasn’t enough.
“Nice to run a run and be at the front,” said Leishman, who made his way to the range to warm up before English took his place. “Don’t hold your breath, but I’m not going anywhere.”
Abraham Ancer (65) finished fourth with minus 11. Kevin Kisner had his second 63 of the tournament – along with a 70 and a 74 – to finish fifth with Brooks Koepka, 65, and three others.
A top five placement would have put Dustin Johnson back to number one in the world. But the defending champion shot down 71 on the 25th at 6 on Sunday.
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