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Shriners Childen’s Open must-play event for Harris English

It’s been a year to remember for Harris English. He won twice on the PGA Tour, came close to his first major championship, cracked the top 10 in the world rankings and played on his first national team as a professional.

English is still coming down from the high of that U.S. Ryder Cup victory two weeks ago. But with the Shriners Children’s Open on the calendar, it was time to get back to the grind of tournament golf.

“I love playing golf, and I love playing tournament golf. It’s not hard to get up for competition golf like this,” he said while working out the kinks on the range at TPC Summerlin on Tuesday.

English is playing the tournament for the eighth time in his 10-year career. It’s one he will always pencil in on his schedule, he said.

“It’s always good weather. The course is a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s just a good, relaxing week to see where your game is at. It’s a good place to start the year.”

An added bonus this year is playing two events in the city with the CJ Cup on the schedule next week at The Summit Club. Because of that, English’s wife, Helen, has joined him on this trip.

“We’re staying down on the Strip,” he said. “It’s nice to have some nice dinners and experience all Vegas has to offer.”

The trip will be a lot sweeter if English plays to his ability this week. Despite his love for TPC Summerlin, his track record features a tie for fourth in 2016 and little else of significance. He missed the cut last year when the tournament set a PGA Tour record for the lowest cut score since records have been kept of 7 under.

Knowing he has to go low this week requires a different mental approach to the tournament, he said.

“You just have to stay aggressive,” he said. “You just have to get on a heater and don’t take the foot off the pedal. You have to have that mindset coming in that pars aren’t that good. You’ve got to be aggressive off the tees and make sure your wedges are good.”

Going low wasn’t an issue for English last season. He was 11th on tour in scoring average, 12th in total birdies and 11th in eagles.

That ability led him to victories at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, the Travelers Championship in Connecticut in June and a third-place finish at the U.S. Open.

It also landed him on the Ryder Cup team, an experience he will never forget.

“It’s a long week, but it’s definitely an exciting week,” he said, noting he purposely skipped last week’s event in Mississippi to recover. “It would have been tough to play it. It would have been tough to be mentally into it.”

English hopes that won’t be the case this week despite not playing anything other than the Ryder Cup over the past month.

“I’m using today and tomorrow to get ready,” he said. “I think once the whistle goes off on the first day, you kind of get back in the zone and get the adrenaline going.”

English is one of six Ryder Cup players who are in the field at the Shriners, with most of the 24 opting to take another week off before starting their seasons. English isn’t surprised by the absences.

“I can understand it. It’s been a long year and we definitely need some breaks,” he said. “It is what it is. Some guys like to spend this time to take some time off, but I’m going to take mine a little bit down the line.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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