PGA Tour golfer Harris English normally likes to spend most weekends on a tour stop trying to win the tournament or at least earn a nice paycheck after having made the cut.
This weekend, however, he admittedly was quite happy to be somewhere else – Baylor School.
The 2007 graduate of the independent school -- and the most successful pro golfing alumnus to date -- was in town to attend his class’ 10-year reunion.
While here, he did pick up some hardware related to his golf, however – a framed picture and plaque for being inducted into the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame.
Eligible for the first time this year, he was recognized along with six other inductees during the Headmaster’s Awards and Memorial Chapel Service Sunday morning at the Baylor Alumni Chapel.
During his short acceptance speech, he sounded as emotional as someone might after winning a major tournament for the first time as he briefly choked up.
In an interview after the ceremony, he sounded as sincere as he did earlier when talking about what Baylor meant to him.
“This school has given me a lot,” he said. “This golf program did a lot for me.”
He said he grew up in Moultrie, Ga., and thinks his parents had heard about Baylor through some acquaintances there. Once he came and visited the school, he knew it was the place for him, he said.
After he arrived as a student, the late Rev. King Oehmig, the Baylor golf coach, helped him and his teammates develop their potential enough to win several state championships.
“His passion for the game and for us succeeding outside the game was unbelievable,” he said.
Mr. English attended Baylor for four years, and the Red Raiders were state Division II champions all four years. During his junior year, 2005, he won the state individual title, and was runner-up his senior year in 2006.
While at Baylor, he was also involved in other activities, serving on the Honor Council and as a peer tutor, among other contributions. He was also presented the Jumonville Award, which is given to the outstanding junior.
Longtime former teacher and wrestling coach Schaack Van Deusen, who was his adviser at Baylor and was among those congratulating him after the ceremony, called him a well-liked student.
Mr. English went on to win the Georgia Amateur the summer after graduating from Baylor.
After making all-American at the University of Georgia and helping lead the Bulldogs to two Southeastern Conference championships, he won a Nationwide Tour event as an amateur and turned pro a few weeks later.
In 2013, he won two PGA Tour events – the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.
His best finish to date in a major tournament was when he tied for 15th at the U.S. Open in 2013.
Mr. English, who married Helen Marie Bowers in February and had several family members on hand Sunday, admitted 2017 was not a great year for him statistically on the tour, but he is hoping to improve.
His next tournament, he said, will come when he makes his first visit ever to Jackson, Miss., to participate in the Sanderson Farms Championship. It is one of four straight tournaments in which he plans to compete.
“Hopefully I’ll have a good year this year, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the majors and trying to be there on Sunday,” he said.
While here for the weekend, Mr. English also played at the Lookout Mountain Golf Club on Saturday, he said.
Mr. English is actually one of four Baylor alums who have their PGA Tour card for next year, so golf fans might be seeing a little red. The others are Stephan Jaeger, Luke List, and Keith Mitchell.
Mr. List, a member of the Class of 2003, was also inducted into the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame Sunday. He was finishing in a tie for 13th at the PGA Tour stop at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, so his mother accepted the award for him.
Others inducted into the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame were Baylor girl standout golfer May Wood Frederiksen ’02, golfer/soccer standout Beth Felts Randall ’04, noted wrestler Jordan Leen ’04, former basketball standout Eric Smith ’87, and longtime head basketball coach Austin Clark.
To hear Harris English talk about what it means to be inducted into the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame, listen here.
To listen to him discuss how he ended up at Baylor and what his thoughts are about his upcoming PGA Tour season, listen here.