Harris English vaults up Ryder Cup standings

Harris English’s birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday did more than earn the 31-year-old the $1.34 million winner’s check at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

English’s first victory in eight years also vaulted the Georgia native to a career-high 17th in the official world golf rankings. He also moved up seven spots to No. 8 in the points rankings for the 2021 United States Ryder Cup team.

In most Ryder Cup years, the top eight players receive automatic berths on the U.S. team. However, that number was reduced to six this year to give captain Steve Stricker more flexibility with six captain’s picks.

Stricker will make his selections following the 2021 Tour Championship.

The automatic spots are currently occupied by Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa. Webb Simpson is seventh followed by English, Patrick Reed and Tony Finau in the top 10.

Tiger Woods, who co-captained the Ryder Cup team that lost to Team Europe in 2018 and led the U.S. to victory in the 2019 Presidents Cup as a playing captain, is 18th in the current Ryder Cup standings.

Sunday’s victory continued a rapid ascent for English, who fell to 342nd in the world in the middle of 2019. He broke into the top 100 with a second-place finish to Johnson at The Northern Trust in the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August.

English went on to reach the Tour Championship, finishing tied for 12th, before a solo fourth place at the U.S. Open. He has a lone missed cut in his past 15 events while posting 11 top-20 results.

Qualifying for the Tour Championship ultimately led to a spot in the Tournament of Champions when the field was expanded beyond the traditional winners from the previous calendar year.

The Ryder Cup was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and will be held Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. English, who now has three career PGA Tour victories, has never played in the Ryder Cup.

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