By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Macon, Ga., is about 4,500 miles from Honolulu, Hawaii, but the vibe in Russell Henley's hometown school was absolutely tropical on Tuesday.
After Henley won the Sony Open in Hawaii in his first start as a professional on the PGA TOUR, his former high school, Stratford Academy in Macon, celebrated his win with a Hawaiian theme on Tuesday.
Students and teachers at the high school and middle school level wore Hawaiian shirts, with the theme extending into the night during the school's basketball game against Brentwood.
"The energy here today has been amazing," said Jaime Kaplan, the school's alumni director and tennis coach. "So many people here know Russell. Everybody knows everybody here."
In addition to wearing Hawaiian shirts, Kaplan also handed out 350 leis.
"I cornered the market at Party City," she said.
Even the school's headmaster, Dr. Robert Veto, wore a Hawaiian shirt and lei. Kaplan said a couple of local television stations visited the school to produce reports about Russell Henley Day.
Henley's father, Chapin, also visited the school and walked around for an hour, enjoying the buzz caused by his son's impressive breakthrough win.
No doubt Henley, who is playing in this week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, will get a full report from his father about the celebration back home.
Photo below: The Stratford Academy golf team celebrates Henley's Sony Open win
Vijay Singh hit 61 of 72 greens in regulation at the Sony Open in Hawaii. (Petersen/Getty Images)
|Category||Winner: Russell Henley||Weekly leader||Finish|
|Driving Distance||293.0 (51st)||Scott Piercy (322.3 yards)||T15|
|Driving Accuracy||55.36% (T8)||Bart Bryant, Brian Stuard (66.07%)||T41, T5|
|Strokes Gained-Putting||3.042 (1st)||Henley||1st|
|Greens in Regulation||83.33% (2nd)||Vijay Singh (84.72%)||T20|
|Proximity to Hole||30' 4" (14th)||Webb Simpson (26' 6")||T20|
|Scrambling||83.33% (T4)||Tim Clark (89.47%)||2nd|
TOUR rookie Russell Henley was victorious in his first event as a PGA TOUR member, making five consecutive birdies to close out his win at the Sony Open in Hawaii. With this victory, Henley ...
Tim Clark used Titleist's new 913F fairway wood at the Sony Open in Hawaii. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Editor
Tim Clark kicked off the 2013 season with a strong showing at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Even though he finished three shots behind winner Russell Henley, the South African posted his second second-place finish in his last six events, dating back to the end of last season.
Clark, who fired a final-round 9-under 63, put Titleist’s new 913F fairway wood (15 degrees) and 712U prototype 4-iron in the bag the bag for the first time, as well as the new ProV1.
Kirk puts Callaway X Forged in the bag: Newly signed Callaway staffer Chris Kirk decided to switch things up for his first tournament of the season. Despite testing out the RAZR X Muscle Back irons during the off-season, Kirk opted to go with the X Forged irons at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Kirk, who usually prefers blades, noted that, “the sole of these irons is the main reason I’m playing them.” The switch paid off in a big way as Kirk finished T5 for the week with his new irons in the bag.
Sabbatini uses off the rack TaylorMade Ghost Spider S putter at Sony: Rory Sabbatini decided to make a last minute putter change on Thursday morning before his first round of 2013.
Instead of heading for TaylorMade’s Tour Van for another option, Sabbatini decided to pick up a Ghost Spider S from the Pro Shop at Waialae. The new putter helped Sabbatini shoot 5-under 65 on Friday to make the weekend, where he finished T59.
TaylorMade R1 impresses at Sony Open: Less than a week after Dustin Johnson became the first TaylorMade staffer to win with the new R1 driver, 21 staffers showed up at the Sony Open with TaylorMade’s latest driver in the bag.
Among the notables using the R1 for the first time this season at the Sony were Mike Weir, Greg Owen, Boo Weekley and Pat Perez.
Perez actually arrived in Honolulu with concerns about consistent misses to the right with his R1. But following a meeting with TaylorMade’s Tour staff, he realized his face angle was set open with a fade-biased setup.
After adjusting the shot shape weights to more of a draw bias and tuning the face angle sole plate to 2 degrees closed, Perez had his preferred ball flight. He finished the week T9 with the R1 in the bag and averaged 303.5 yards off the tee.
Callaway inks long drive champion Sadlowski: Callaway may want to consider lengthening its driving range. Just days after the company signed Nicolas Colsaerts — considered by many to be one of the longest hitters in golf — to the staff, Callaway went out and inked another bomber in two-time RE/MAX World long drive champion Jamie Sadlowski.
Sadlowski spent time at the Ely Callaway Performance Center testing the new X Hot driver, where he launched shots over the back net with ease. Callaway's Twitter account even tweeted a clip of Sadlowski launching a drive off the property.
Parnevik signs with Cobra Puma Golf: After nearly severing his right, index finger last March in a boating accident, five-time PGA TOUR winner Jesper Parnevik is kicking off his 2013 at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation with a new sponsor, after Cobra Puma Golf announced the Swede would be playing Cobra clubs and wearing Puma Golf apparel this season.
According to Cobra Puma Golf, Parnevik will have 12 Cobra clubs in the bag and will sport Puma’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection along with the new Tux Lux golf shoe, part of PUMA Golf’s Lux footwear collection.
Parnevik will play the beginning of 2013 on medical exemption, which gives him 12 events to make $620,087 to retain his PGA TOUR card.
New Cobra clubs in Parnevik’s bag:
Driver: AMP CELL Pro Driver in Silver (7.5 degrees)
3-Wood: AMP CELL Pro Fairway (prototype) in Silver (13 degrees)
Irons: AMP Forged Irons, 3-PW
Wedges: Trusty Rusty in Rust finish (49 and 53 degrees)
Divots: Odyssey’s new Versa putter picked up two top-10 finishes courtesy of Charles Howell III’s T3 (using a Versa #1 B/W/B) and Perez’s T9 (using a Versa 2-ball). … Charlie Beljan, Jerry Kelly and Steven Bowditch had at least one of Cleveland Golf’s new 588MT game-improvement clubs in play at the Sony. While it may be designed for the everyday player, all three opted to use the club in place of their long irons. … Perez, Rickey Barnes, John Daly and Brian Harman used TaylorMade’s new Lethal golf ball during the week. … Of the 103 players in the field at the Sony that relied on a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x, 62 played the company’s latest version, including top four finishers Tim Clark (Pro V1), Scott Langley (Pro V1x) and Howell III (Pro V1x).
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Russell Henley made quite an impression in his first PGA TOUR start. The 23-year-old rookie posted rounds of 63-63-67-63, including a back-nine 29 on Sunday that included five straight birdies, to win the Sony Open in Hawaii by three shots over Tim Clark.
His score of 24-under 256 set the record for the lowest total score at the Sony Open. In the process, Henley became the first player on the PGA TOUR to win with Nike’s new 20XI X golf ball.
Henley used Nike’s 20XI X last season on the Web.com Tour but decided to switch to the latest version, for his first event of 2013 because he felt the new ball, with its larger RZN core, went farther and felt softer around the greens.
Aside from the new ball, Henley also had 14 Nike clubs in the bag for his first PGA TOUR victory.
What Russell Henley had in the bag at the Sony Open in Hawaii:
Driver: Nike VR_S (9.5 degrees) with a Graphite Design HD-7X Shaft
Fairway wood: Nike SQ Sumo (13 degrees)
Hybrid: Nike VR Pro (18 degrees)
Irons: Nike VR Pro Cavity (3-6 iron), Nike VR Pro Combo (7-9 iron)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (47, 53 and 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006 Prototype with a long slant neck
Ball: Nike 20XI X
With his runner-up at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Tim Clark has runner-up finishes in nine consecutive years.
By Ann Miller, for PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU — Tim Clark had never played better than he did at this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii and neither had anyone else at Waialae Country Club, until rookie Russell Henley came along.
Clark birdied the final four holes in the last round and still lost ground to Henley on Sunday. Henley won his debut as a PGA TOUR member with a tournament-record 24-under 256, closing with his third 63 of a remarkable week.
That was the third-best 72-hole total in TOUR history. Clark’s 21-under 259 total was in the Top 15 and the lowest of his life. He also closed with 63, pulling away from everybody but Henley.
Clark, who won the 2010 PLAYERS Championship, now has runner-up finishes in nine consecutive years, including Sony in 2011. That week, he suffered an injury in the pro-am and would play just three more rounds the rest of the year. As a rookie, the 35-year-old South African injured his wrist here.
“I either come second here or blow myself out for a year,” Clark said. “Yeah, it’s strange. I love coming here, but it’s … I’ve hurt myself twice and it put me out for two whole years.”
Clearly, Clark is back again. He had three Top 10s last year, including a runner-up at the Wyndham Championship.
“Obviously last year was really me just trying to get back to playing,” he said. “A couple times I felt like I was in contention, certainly in Connecticut I thought I had a chance to win there, and didn't feel great coming down the stretch. And then last year at Greensboro, when Sergio (Garcia) played really well on Sunday and beat me. But that felt pretty good.
“So I was excited about coming out this year, and certainly today I myself felt pretty calm. I wasn't thinking big picture. I was able to stay in every shot. That for me has always been my biggest problem. I get too goal-oriented in thinking about that win, and today I didn't really let that happen. Under normal circumstances that round would have won me the tournament, but I just got outplayed.”
At least Clark came close. No one else could make that claim.
“Tim was pushing me pretty hard out there,” Henley said, grinning. “I wish he wouldn't have done that. That was stressing me out.”
Clark plans to play a lot early this year to try and earn his way into the U.S. and British Opens. The Presidents Cup is also on the horizon.
Now, if he could just find a way around the rookies.
“I'm thinking about that,” Clark grinned. “They should maybe make these guys play somewhere else for a little bit more. It’s great for the TOUR, and the fact that they're such nice guys, you can only be happy for the guy in getting his first win.”
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HONOLULU -- When you shoot 24 under it’s hard to distinguish just a single putt to win the tournament but Russell Henley did play a key stretch of holes. After making a bogey on the eighth hole, Henley birdied the ninth and 10th. Not only did those birdies act as a bounce back following his bogey, they also held off Tim Clark, who was making birdies of his own. Henley answered opponent’s birdies on Sunday with birdies of his own.
Thumbs up: Tim Clark finished second, shooting 21 under after a final round 63. When Russell Henley birdied the 17th hole, Clark caught his eye and gave him a thumbs up as if to say, ‘I’ve given you all I could and it still wasn’t enough..well done.’
Ball striking: Vijay Singh was the best ball striker in the tournament, hitting 61 of 72 greens in regulation. He finished in 20th because he struggled on the greens. Singh was 72nd in total putts with rounds of 33, 32, 31 and 29 putts. He ranked 60th (of the 74 players who made the cut) in strokes gained-putting.
Caddie: Todd Jesbold got a big paycheck as caddie for Russell Henley and he earned the money. On the 16th hole, Henley drove left of the cart path and Jesbold did the arithmetic, arriving at 161 yards. He then handed Henley a wedge explaining anything short of the hole would be just fine. There was no argument from Henley, who usually hits his wedge 145 yards. This time the ball landed on the green then, with no spin coming out of the rough, released to within 12 feet of the cup. Henley made the putt for birdie and enjoyed a victory walk on both 17 and 18.
Vog: The wind turned around and blew from the north for the final round but the light breeze made little difference in course strategy. The Kona Wind did make for a gray morning. The breezes blew volcanic ash through the sky that Islanders refer to as Vog.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Russell Henley carded his third 63 of the week on Sunday, and in the process set a tournament scoring record and rookie record for the lowest 72-hole total in PGA TOUR history on his way to winning the Sony Open in Hawaii in his first start as a member of the TOUR.
The 23-year-old finished at 24-under 256, closing out his final round with five straight birdies en route to a back-nine 29.
He finished three shots ahead of Tim Clark.
With the victory, Henley earns 500 FedExCup points and a PGA TOUR card for the next two years. He also earned a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship.
Henley was dominant from start to finish at Waialae, where he played the par 4s in 17 under and at one point went 50 holes without a bogey.
The former University of Georgia standout, who won three times on the Web.com Tour, including once as an amateur, is the first rookie to win in his first start on TOUR since Garrett Willis in 2001.
This was hardly Henley's first time in the spotlight.
While at Georgia, he won the Haskins Award as the most outstanding collegiate golfer in 2010. He also tied for low amateur honors in the U.S. Open that year.
The following year, he won the Stadion Athens Classic at UGA, becoming just the seond amateur to win on the Web.com Tour.
In 2012, Henley captured the Chiquita Classic before earning his PGA TOUR card for the 2013 season.
Rookie Russell Henley picked up his first career win in his first start as a member of the PGA TOUR Sunday at the Sony Open in Hawaii, where he shot his third 63 of the week en route to the lowest 72-hole total by a rookie in PGA TOUR history.
Henley, who finished in a tournament-record 24 under, closed out the win with five straight birdies en route to a back-nine 29. Send him your congratulations below and we'll pass it along.