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English wins first PGA Tour title in Memphis

(Reuters) - Harris English overcame a shaky start, then took advantage of a late collapse by fellow American Scott Stallings to clinch his maiden PGA Tour title with a two-shot victory at the St Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday.

The 23-year-old English birdied two of the last three holes at the TPC Southwind to close with a one-under-par 69, ending a roller-coaster final round where he and Stallings had dueled back and forth for the lead.

Stallings and four-times major champion Phil Mickelson tied for second, two strokes back.

A curling 17-foot birdie putt at the 17th put English two strokes clear and he safely pared the tricky final hole to post a 12-under total of 268 in the final PGA Tour event before next week's U.S. Open.

"I was feeling very good with my ball-striking all week," a beaming English told CBS Sports greenside after two-putting for par on the 18th green, then pumping his right fist in delight.

"I just had to get those putts to fall. I kept it together, had bad bogeys on eight and nine, but stuck with it and made some good birdies coming in."

Stallings had been two ahead when he hit his wedge approach into water at the 15th en route to a damaging double-bogey six and had to settle for a share of second place after bogeying the 18th for a 68.

Level with Stallings at 10 under was Mickelson, who thrilled the crowd when he nearly holed out his approach at the par-four last for a tap-in birdie and a 67.

"I hit some good wedges coming in and I thought that one on 18 might even go (in)," Mickelson said after a five-birdie display on Sunday. "I hit a lot of good iron shots."

FLUCTUATING LEADERBOARD

English, whose previous best finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for fifth at last year's Crowne Plaza Invitational, mixed six birdies with five bogeys as the leaderboard fluctuated wildly in the final round.

PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani began the day with a one-stroke advantage but bogeyed the opening hole and he never recovered on the way to a closing 76 and a tie for seventh at six under.

Though English faltered at the par-four second where he missed the green with his approach, he immediately rebounded with birdies at the third and fourth to edge a stroke front.

However, he then slid backwards with bogeys at the fifth, eighth and ninth to hand Stallings a two-stroke advantage.

Stallings had charged up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine, a 25-footer at the ninth giving him the outright lead for the first time.

English briefly cut the lead to one after making birdies at the 10th and 11th before surprisingly stumbling with a three-putt bogey at the par-four 13th.

Stallings appeared to be in cruise control as he started the back nine with five consecutive pars but stunningly double-bogeyed the 15th after hitting his second shot into water to drop back into a tie with English.

Stallings bounced back with a birdie at the par-five 16th, getting up and down from a greenside bunker, to regain a one-stroke cushion before being caught in a tie at the top.

English, playing in the group behind, also birdied the 16th after reaching the green in two and two-putting to join Stallings at 11 under.

Stallings then bogeyed the last after missing the green to the right with his approach and hitting his chip shot fat for his ball to get no further than the fringe. Now one ahead, English effectively secured the title with his birdie at 17.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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