Harris English rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth playoff hole on Sunday to defeat fellow American Kramer Hickok and win the US PGA Travelers Championship.
The intense drama matched the second-longest playoff in US PGA history as each player delivered seven playoff pars before English capped the spectacle in the twilight for his fourth career tour title.
“This was awesome,” English said. “The fans were keeping us in it. Hats off to Kramer. What a competitor.
“We were grinding out there, making those six- and seven-footers. That was incredible. What an experience. The fans are always awesome here. Glad we gave them a good little show.”
English, ranked 19th, won the 2013 St Jude and Mayakoba Classics and snapped his win drought at January’s Tournament of Champions – qualifying under revamped Covid-19 rules thanks to making the 2020 Tour Championship.
Hickok, ranked 331st, sank a birdie putt from just inside nine feet on the 18th hole in regulation to shoot a three-under-par 67 and match English on 13 under 267 after 72 holes at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
“It was just a hard-fought battle out there,” Hickok said. “Played tough. He battled so hard. There were times I put him in a tough spot, he put me in a tough spot, and he came out on top and he’s a true champion.
“It was just a tremendous day. It was a privilege. I’m just going to draw on this going forward in my career and hopefully learn a lot from it.”
Hickok, denied his first PGA title, and English went to the 18th for the fourth time for the sixth extra hole.
English blasted from a fairway bunker to just outside six feet of the cup while Hickok’s approach went just off the green. Hickok rolled his putt 20 feet past the hole but made the comeback putt for par as the crowd roared and chanted his name.
English missed his birdie putt for the win and tapped in to extend the drama to a seventh playoff hole, back at the 18th tee.
English two-putted from 25 feet to leave Kramer a 17-footer for birdie to win. He missed but tapped in for par, setting up an eighth extra hole.
This time, Hickok two-putted from 22 feet and English had a 20-foot birdie putt to win, which he sank, sparking a right fist pump in celebration and ending the longest playoff in nine years.
“It wasn’t pretty but we had quite a fight,” English said. “It’s validation for me. I’ve been doing the right stuff. Came in this week with a lot of confidence. Nice to finish it off.”
The only longer playoff in PGA history was an 11-holer at the 1949 Motor City Open that was halted by darkness with Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum declared co-champions.
Australia’s Marc Leishman was third on 268 after a closing 64 with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer fourth on 269.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was a contender for his fourth career Travelers title until closing with four bogeys and a double-bogey to shoot 73 and share 19th.
His collapse left Hickok and English to battle. English rolled in an eight-foot par putt at the par-three 16th and responded after a bogey at 17 by sinking a birdie putt from just inside 28 feet at the 18th.
That set the stage for Hickok’s clutch birdie at 18 to force extra holes, with highlights including English blasting from a bunker plugged lie to seven feet and making the putt on the second playoff hole.
On the fifth playoff hole, 17, Hickok dropped his approach just outside 10 feet with English 25 feet away. English’s putt broke six feet right while Hickok lipped out for birdie. Hickok tapped in for par but English matched him.
© Agence France-Presse