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Sony Open, Rookie Russell Rips Up the Record Books.

Smashing debut

Winning Rookie Russell Henley / Petersen/Getty Images

The Sony Open was won by rookie Russell Henley on his Tour debut, and doing so he ripped up the standing records for just about everything.

Russell  finished at -24 under par and a total score of 256, breaking by four shots the Sony Open in Hawaii scoring record, last set by Brad Faxon in 2001. Russell relegated Tim Clark into second place by three shots, Tim was himself on fire, he birdied seven of his last eleven holes and actually only made up one shot on Russell, the rookie from the University of Georgia.

Russell is now tied at the top the FedEx Cup standings in the company of Dustin Johnson on 500 points. The win was the second-lowest score for a 72-hole tournament in PGA TOUR history, two shots behind Tommy Armour III in 2003 at the Valero Texas Open. He also  set tournament records for the low 36-hole score after his 63-63 start, he shared the 54-hole record with Scott Langley and also set another tournament record with the lowest final round by a Champion.

Add to that he became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win his debut since Garrett Willis did at Tucson in 2001, and he will be going to the Masters in April, a local tournament for the boy from Macon, Georgia.

He said of his record breaking day that he had never been so nervous, you would not have imagined that watching him coming down the stretch on Sunday. He played the last nine holes superbly.

“I don’t really know what happened, honestly, 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.”

With the results  of his Web.com Tour season last year and this win Russell Henley has already made it into the world rankings inside the top fifty.  That ranking will get him into the Accenture-Match Play Championship for the top 64 in the world, the qualifying date is only a month away, and he should also be in line for the other WGC at the Cadillac Championship, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, not forgetting the PGA Championship. All in all quite a PGA TOUR debut, I look forward to watching Russell this season, it will be interesting to see how far he can go, he obviously has the talent.

 

Sony Open, Rookies Rule The Roost, Tied at the Top

 

Russell Henley of the U.S. (L) practices his putt swing as Scott Langley waits to putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

 Russell Henley and Scott Langley / Hugh Gentry Reuters

The two first year rookies, Russell Henley and Scott Langley are tied at the top of the leaderboard of the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, at the conclusion of the third round on Saturday. They share the lead at -17 under par, a three shot lead over Tim Clark who is alone in third place, at -14 under par.

Russell  fired a three-under-par 67 third round, while Scott carded a 65, to level the scores for the tournament for these two friends.

Apart from leading the tournament the pair now share the course lowest 54 hole record, at 193. Russell is still amazed at the experience he and Scott are enjoying;

“A month ago I was at orientation, and Scott just done with Q-School, and I gave him a ride to the airport. We had lunch and I was telling him how awesome it was I was on the PGA Tour. This is kind like a dream, it’s weird. It’s like I’m not awake, very weird. Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m going to learn from it. I’ve played great golf and I feel like I can compete out here. Win this tournament or not, it’s already been a very successful week.”

Scott was calculating the odds on him winning, and is happy the pair will together again tomorrow for the final round;

” The Vegas odds on me winning were probably not very good, I hope somebody bet on me and I make him a lot of money. I never imagined that, it’s certainly odd, but you know, if there was a guy in the field that I would love to do it with, it would be Russell because we play pretty similar games, and we’re kind of the same guy on the course. We play pretty quickly and pretty easy going, kind of feel our way around, not too technical. So there are a lot of guys that I enjoy playing with, but Russell is definitely one of them.”

A victory for either player on Sunday would emulate the achievement of fellow American Garrett Willis, who was the most recent rookie to win on his debut as a PGA Tour member, at the 2001 Tucson Open.

Tim Clark is happy with his golfing progress since coming back from injury, he would love to win this tournament, but is sure neither of the rookies will be worried about leading;

“I’m sure they won’t be too intimidated, that’s going to be fun to see them play. There’s all these young guys coming out these days, and they’re ready to go right from the start. So it’s going to be a fun battle.”

There are two players tied in fourth place at -13 under par, Scott Gardiner and Charles Howell 111, or Chucky three sticks, as he is known as on the Tour. At four shots back these guys must still feel they are in with a shout.

At -12 under par are a host of players, most notably for us in New Zealand, one of them is Danny Lee. It is good to see the Kiwi contesting on the final day. But as I said yesterday, if  Russell and Scott are paired together for the last round, one of them will be the winner.

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