Tournament of Champions 2021: Harris English Defeats Joaquin Niemann in Playoff

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2021

Harris English hits from the second tee during the final round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

Harris English is a PGA Tour event winner for the first time since 2013.  

English defeated Joaquin Niemann in a playoff hole during the final round of the 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii. He forced the playoff with a dramatic birdie on the final hole, pulling even at minus-25 for the tournament.

In fact, he had an eagle putt on that 18th hole to win the tournament outright after an incredible second shot on the par five, but he left it just wide. 


Back in the winner's circle for the first time since 2013. 🏆 @Harris_English breaks through @Sentry_TOC. https://t.co/YQFzagUx90


First event of 2021 is going to extra holes. @JoacoNiemann and @Harris_English head to 18. https://t.co/dBHTx8xX9w


Worth the wait. This one means a lot to @Harris_English. 💪 https://t.co/yfEynAO8Ya

It was no matter as he parlayed the momentum from playing that hole so well while Niemann tried to stay warm while watching and won the playoff hole.

It was not exactly a surprise English went head-to-head against someone with the tournament on the line, but it was something of a surprise it was Niemann. After all, English was tied with Ryan Palmer at 21 under following the third round and was just one stroke ahead of Collin Morikawa.

Yet it was Niemann who made a head-turning charge while shooting a nine-under 64 in the final round.


Reeling it in ... from the fringe. 🎣 The amount of spin from @JoacoNiemann. 😲 #QuickHits https://t.co/0hN3hvQFua


Rollin' 🕳 Leader @JoacoNiemann is showing no signs of slowing down. #QuickHits https://t.co/Q4pXRTytWh


6 holes. 4 birdies. @JoacoNiemann is just 1 shot back. #QuickHits https://t.co/aDh7yFY9Lg

He had six birdies on the front nine alone to charge up the leaderboard and eventually made up the five-stroke deficit to take the lead into the clubhouse. He could only watch with a one-stroke lead as English approached the 18th hole, but the latter's birdie and performance in the playoff took the trophy out of his hands.

He wasn't the only one who impressed in the final round as Justin Thomas shot a seven-under 66 and finished one stroke off the lead. Thomas finished ahead of Palmer, who missed a number of opportunities and shot just two under in the final round.

Palmer ended the day two strokes off the lead, which was at least better than Morikawa. The presumed top challenger to the pair atop the leaderboard after the first three rounds shot an even-par 73 after two consecutive 65s in the second and third rounds. 

Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard with the full field available at ESPN.com.

1. Harris English, -25 (won playoff)

2. Joaquin Niemann, -25

3. Justin Thomas, -24

4. Ryan Palmer, -23

T5. Xander Schauffele, -21

T5. Sungjae Im, -21

T7. Bryson DeChambeau, -20

T7. Jon Rahm, -20

T7. Collin Morikawa, -20

10. Daniel Berger, -19

It was a testament to English's consistency throughout the tournament that challengers such as Niemann and Thomas could finish five and three strokes better than him, respectively, in the final round and still come up short.

English built an advantage over those two by shooting 65, 67 and 66 in the opening three rounds and seemed to be in cruise control while he shot even par on the front nine.

However, he set the stage for his win with three straight birdies on Nos. 11-13 and survived his bogey with his aggressive approach on the 18th.

That second shot on the 18th to help set up the playoff will be one he remembers forever, and he continued his impressive play on the back nine with the victory in the playoff.