Harris English fired back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 on Sunday en route to a final-round 69 and a two-stroke victory in the US PGA Tour’s US$5.7 million St Jude Classic.
English captured his first PGA Tour title with a 12-under-par total of 268 after four rounds on the par-70 TPC Southwind course.
He held off four-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who carded a 67 to share second place with Scott Stallings on 270.
Stallings, who closed with a 68, picked up four birdies on the front nine to seize the lead and led by as many as three strokes before a double-bogey six at the par-four 15th, where he was in the water.
He responded with a birdie at 16, but English moved past him with a two-putt birdie at 16 and an impressive birdie at 17, where he kept his approach shot under the trees and then drained a 17-footer.
The 23-year-old English had endured a difficult front nine that included four bogeys and just two birdies.
“I was feeling good about my ball-striking and just had to get those putts to fall,” said English, who steadied himself with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th.
“Harris played great coming down the stretch,” Stallings said.
Mickelson, using the tournament as a tuneup for the US Open that starts on Thursday at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, had three birdies in his last five holes.
He nearly holed his approach shot at 18, tapping in for birdie.
“I thought that one on 18 might even go,” Mickelson said. “Looks like it wouldn’t have been enough with Harris making birdie on 17. He’s played some great golf.”
Mickelson, who finished with five birdies and two bogeys, said the need for accuracy at Southwind was good preparation for the US Open, where finding the fairways will be crucial.
“I really like playing here,” he said. “There’s a real premium on hitting the fairway, then you can be aggressive into the greens.”