Henley claims debut victory
Last updated: 14th January 2013
Rookie Russell Henley was victorious in his first event as a full-time PGA Tour member, winning the Sony Open in Hawaii by three strokes on Sunday.
The unheralded 23-year-old carded his third 63 of the weekend on Sunday to set a tournament record as well as the lowest 72-hole total for a rookie in the PGA Tour's history.
Henley birdied the final five holes to finish seven under for the round once again to finish on 24-under par, three strokes in front of South Africa's Tim Clark. His victory also ensured his PGA Tour card for another season as well as qualifying berths for the Masters and PGA Championship.
The American youngster was dominant throughout the tournament and went for 50 holes without carding a bogey at one stage during the event.
"I'm pretty speechless," Henley said after he received his winner's cheque.
"I was trying not to think about Augusta out there because I just kept telling myself, 'This is a long year, you're going to play this game a long time, and be patient, it doesn't have to happen now.' Everything I could to psyche myself out of thinking about winning. It worked."
Clark picked up birdies on the three of the last four holes, but was never really in contention for the win, although he did register eight birdies in his final round to card a 63 as well.
"When you get up close and watch a guy play... if that's how he putts all the time, whew! It's over," Clark said of Henley's play throughout the week.
"He just never seemed to put a foot wrong, and when he did, he made those par putts.
"That's when you know a guy is comfortable, when he's making those 8- to 10-footer for par. But I still got on the 15th hole and said, 'Well, let's finish with four birdies and see what happens.' And sure enough, he birdied the last four, too.
When a guy plays that well and beats you, you just have to be happy for them."
Another American, Charles Howell III, finished in third place after carding a 66, which included an eagle on the par three ninth.
First round leader Scott Langley faded out of contention with after a poor back nine in the final round.
He was only two shots off the pace after the 11th, but then picked up three bogeys over the next four holes to drop out of the running for top honours in his debut event.
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