Russell Henley - remember that name
Last updated: 15th January 2013
Russel Henley, the US PGA Tour rookie who stunned the field when he won the Sony Open on Sunday with a record breaking 24-under 256, is no run-of-the-mill rookie.
He has a college and a Web.com Tour pedigree as long as your arm.
He has come out of US College golf with a truly stellar CV that shows that during his time at the University of Georgia he won the Haskins Award for the most outstanding collegiate golfer in 2010.
He never won the US Amateur but he did enough in the championship to twice qualify to play in the US Open, where he finished tied for leading amateur with Scott Langley in 16th place in 2010 and in a tie for 42nd place in 2011.
In the same year he represented the USA in the Walker Cup against Great Britain and Ireland and became only the second amateur in history to win on the Nationwide Tour when he triumphed in the Stadion Classic on his home course at Georgia University.
Later, after he joined the Web.com Tour (previously the Natiowide Tour) as a professional, he won the Chiquita Classic on September 30, 2012 and the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open on October 21 and it was no surprise when he graduated to the US PGA Tour in 2013.
Nobody can say, therefore, that Henley was a Mister Nobody College kid when he teed off at the Wiailae Country Club in Honolulu in his debut PGA Tour title tilt on Thursday, surging to his three-shot victory over South Africa's seasoned Tim Clark, raising his bank balance by a cool $990.000 and earning a two year Tour exemption and a spot in this year's Masters championship.
Coming in what in effect was the PGA Tour's first full-field event of 2013, it was as spectacular a debut as anyone could wish for and it certainly helped make his previous heroics pale into insignificance.
At Wiailae he took advantage of good weather to shoot three blistering 63s with the last two separated by a 67 as he shattered the old tournament record by all of four shots with his eye-popping 24-under total.
But that wasn't all.
His victory on Sunday, which came against a field that excluded top-rankers like Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald, the World's Nos 1,2 and 3, but included some other high rankers with Ryder Cup experience like Dustin Johnson, the previous week's winner, also set him up as the first rookie in 10 years to win on debut on the PGA Tour.
And if all this isn't enough to impress you, would it help to further disclose that his winning total was the second-lowest for a 72-hole tournament in PGA Tour history.
Only Tommy Armour III's 26-under victory in the Valero Texas Open in 2003 was lower.
For the last few years the US PGA Tour has unearthed some exciting new major champions in the likes of Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, German's Martin Kaymer and the American's Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Web Simpson, but with the exception, perhaps of Rory McIlroy, none of them managed to explode into the PGA Tour limelight with as much impact as our Mister Henley.
Question is, are we seeing the arrival of another future golfing royal, or will he fizzle like too many others whose careers have briefly flared brightly, but who have quickly joined that hardy band of invisible journeymen to whom fame and fortune always seem to be just a bridge too far?
I don't know Henley personally and there is a lot I don't know about the ins and outs that go towards the make-up of the man, but with an amateur record like his and after the confidence he will have gained with his triumphant entry into the top-level professional golf, I don't think I'm sticking my neck out too far when I suggest we are going to hear a lot more about him.
Russel Henley; remember that name.
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