Russell Henley made like his long-lost uncle Don and got down to “The Heart of the Matter“. No? Then Saturday night was certainly his “Last Worthless Evening” because he pocketed $990,000 with his record setting win Sunday at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Shooting a stunning back-nine 29 (honestly, any sub-30 score for 9 holes is ridiculous) Henley held off a charging Tim Clark to record his first PGA TOUR win in his first tournament as a member of the PGA TOUR at Honolulu’s Waialae Country Club. Henley is the first player to win in his tournament on TOUR since 2001. Henley set a tournament record with his 24-under par, 256, also the lowest score by a rookie on TOUR. According to Golf Channel Broadcaster Johnny Miller (and my own highly-tuned math skills) Henley made something in the neighborhood of [a great distance] of putts. (full disclosure: stats not available yet on PGATOUR.com but I can’t let that stop me! I have minions of loyal readers!) [Hi Mom and Dad]. At any rate, Henley and Clark held a putting clinic over the final nine holes of the tournament. Here’s what you should know about Russell Henley:
- Not at all related to Don Henley
- Played at the stud farm known as the University of Georgia (look it up, they’re producing some quality talent, and not on Sorority Row, either)
- Tied for Low Amateur at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
- Won the 2011 Stadion Athens Classic at UGA on the Web.com Tour…AS AN AMATEUR
- Won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2012 on his way to securing his 2013 PGA TOUR card
- His Twitter handle is @RussHenleyGolf
Now Henley has secured his TOUR card for two more years and earned invitations to the PGA Championship, The Players and The Masters (especially big for a kid from Georgia). He obviously has a strong pedigree, and it should come as no surprise that someone with his talent would find success on the PGA TOUR, but this early?!?!?
It was clearly Henley’s putting that set him apart this week. Aside from holding off the charge and equal putting of Tim Clark on the final nine holes, Henley one-putted 33 times. But enough about him…let’s look at some other takeaways from the Sony Open in Hawaii:
Tim Clark: Off of elbow surgery that kept him in limited action in 2011 and 2012, the South African showed great form with his final round 63 (-7). Clark birdied his last four holes and showed the form we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him. He’ll be back on the International Presidents Cup Team and I expect to see him add another win to the 2010 Players.
Charles Howell III: A 7th top 5 at Waialae Country Club is a good start to the season. Howell has played well in recent years but is winless since 2007. A player with his talent should be getting more out of himself. As Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller alluded to on the broadcast, Howell admitted to them that he wants to win badly. Howell continued to say that perhaps that desire is getting in the way and causing him to press more than he should.
Matt Kuchar: A solid closing 65 (-5) gave Kuchar his 2nd top-10 in as many events this season and his 36th since 2009, most on the PGA TOUR.
Scott Langley: An impressive debut for this rookie but it is overshadowed by the rookie who won, Henley. Still, Langley will take a lot from his final round 70 (E), mostly what mental toughness he needs to close out a tournament on the PGA TOUR.
Pat Perez: Known for his hot temper and sometime bad attitude, Perez finished T-9, closing with a 68 (-2). Reports have circulated this week that Perez has been working on his demeanor and his top-10 this week has already equaled the top-10s he had last season.