Rookie Henley Wins in Debut at Sony Open
by Jeff Skinner
This winning stuff on the PGA Tour is pretty easy, just ask Russell Henley. To get to the PGA Tour he followed a simple formula. All he did was earn first team All America at the University of Georgia and win the Fred Haskins Award as the nation’s most outstanding golfer. Then he got into a Web.com Tour event on a sponsor’s exemption and then proceeded to win it, as an amateur. He went on to play on the Web.com Tour, won a few times and finished third on the money list and earned his 2013 PGA Tour Card.
With PGA Tour Card in hand, Henley then showed up in Hawaii to start the season at the Sony Open. Now here’s the really easy part, or at least is was for Henley. How do you win your first PGA Tournament? It’s easy: you open with consecutive rounds of 63, have a slight blip with a third round 67 but then put the hammer down with another 63 in the final round to pull away from everyone, rookies and veterans alike.
Henley may have started the day tied for the lead with fellow rookie Scott Langley but he wasn’t about to open the door for any of the challengers. Veteran Tim Clark tied Henley’s round of 63 but finished three shots behind the winner.
It was a record setting performance for the rookie as he broke the Sony Open by four shots with a 24 under 256 total. Henley finished with a very loud exclamation point as he closed with a back nine 29 which included five straight birdies to finish.
The Georgia native will be able to fulfill a lifelong dream as he tees it up at Augusta in April. “I don’t really know what happened, honestly,” Henley said. “This is the most nervous I’ve ever been. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been my goal to make it to the Masters my whole life. I’m kind of speechless right now.”
Maybe it wasn’t that easy after all.