CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Russell Henley seemed like the rest of us when the alarm sounded at 5 a.m. on Friday.
"Trying to get moving," he tweeted 14 minutes after the wake-up call. "Everybody have a nice weekend."
Henley's certainly is shaping up nicely. Not only did the Sony Open in Hawaii winner make his 7:40 a.m. date with John Merrick and Kevin Streelman at Quail Hollow, Henley has seized the lead in the Wells Fargo Championship after making three birdies in his first eight holes.
Henley has moved to 6 under for the tournament, which positions him one stroke ahead of what was the overnight lead. Also climbing to 5 under this morning is Jason Kokrak, who birdied the fifth hole to join logjam with Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, Robert Garrigus and rookie Derek Ernst.
Rory McIlroy, who held a share of the first-round lead, is having his troubles on Friday. He started on the back nine and bogeyed the 10th, then reeled off seven straight pars before adding another bogey at the 18th. So he has made the turn at 2 over and 3 under for the tournament.
Henley is in his first Masters but has played Augusta National an estimated 10 times. (Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Nicolas Colsaerts and Russell Henley are among the 17 first-time Masters participants this week.
But this isn't the first time they've played Augusta National, however.
Colsaerts came here about a month ago. Henley, a Macon, Ga., native and University of Georgia product, has played about 10 rounds here through the years he estimates.
Still, this week is different. Both shared their early experiences and impressions on Monday.
"Coming to the golf course this morning (I was surprised) how many people were trying to get in," said Colsaerts, only the second player from Belgium to play in the Masters. "Course‑wise, it's so much more subtle than I thought. You think that after watching it for so many years, you have an idea of what it's going to be like, but everything is accentuated by a thousand times. Obviously the first time you walk around Amen Corner is quite special.
"Everything you look around, the first time you walk through the clubhouse and you get to see this piece of land in front of you, just how green it is, how clean it is everywhere, underneath the trees, I don't think there's any place like this."
Henley, meanwhile, drove in from Charleston, S.C. on Sunday night. When he arrived, he bumped into three-time Masters champ Phil Mickelson and his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay in the parking lot. When he got inside, Ben Crenshaw was in line ahead of him to register for the tournament.
Asked who he'd like to play a practice round with, Henley mentioned Crenshaw's name and Tom Watson. The pro shop gave Henley Watson's phone number and the two teed it up on Monday along with Nathan Smith.
What advice did Watson give Henley?
"Just little stuff, like No. 1, we talked about how he thinks the center of the green there is a great play," Henley said. "And how when he was first walking the course and learning it, he found out very quick to not go left on that hole at any of the pins, and hit a lot of chips from the right.
"No. 4, when the pin is on the front left, he said, 'Don't ever hit it in the right bunker.' Just good, simple knowledge to just kind of go by. I feel a lot more confident knowing what he had to say."
And a little richer after apparently getting in Watson's pocket.
"It was crazy to me, you've got a legend of the game standing right next to me. I kept (thinking) he's right there, and he's sitting there asking me about my family, talking to me about how to help me with the TOUR and giving me advice," Henley said. "I'll always remember today and being in his group.
"We played some skins. Nathan won the most, but I won a few. Definitely had a few moments with him out there, but yeah, he was paying up."
MARANA, Ariz. -- This match was a tight one with Jason Day getting to 2 up for just one hole. Otherwise, the Aussie was 1 up for eight holes and Russell Henley, who was making his Accenture Match Play Championship debut, held the same advantage for six.
Day got the edge early when he birdied the second hole. But two of his three bogeys, which came at the fifth and sixth holes, put Henley, who birdied No. 6, on top.
The two halved the eighth hole with birdies so Henley was 1 up at the turn. Day quickly turned the tide, though, when he won three straight -- starting with a birdie at the 12th, followed by a par at No. 11 and another birdie at the 13th.
That 2-up lead was short-lived, though, as Henley made a 7-footer for birdie at the 14th. The rookie, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii early this year, then made a 14-footer at the 18th hole to extend the match only to lose to Day's 9-footer on the first extra hole after missing one from 13 feet of his own.
"I think Russell only missed one green today, which was very, very frustrating on my side, because he hit it great, so that means you have to make birdie," Day said. "I just did enough today to win. He was very clutch on 18 to actually hole the putt and get it back to all square. And fortunately I hit a nice tight one into the 19th hole, and he missed his birdie putt and I holed one, which was nice.
SCORECARD STATS: Day made five birdies and three bogeys in 19 holes. Henley made four birdies and two bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. Henley won four holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Bubba Watson, who beat Jim Furyk on the 22nd hole.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Russell Henley has a new nickname: "Mr. Bracket Buster."
That's exactly what the PGA TOUR rookie did to many fantasy golf fans when he upset Charl Schwartzel 1 up in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
"I've heard a lot of comments from people saying they expected him to win, and that gave me a little motivation for sure," Henley acknowledged. "But he's an outstanding player, obviously. Can't really not be a great player when you win the Masters."
Henley, who won his first start as a PGA TOUR member earlier this year in Hawaii, shook off a disappointing double bogey-bogey finish on Wednesday that eliminated his 2-up advantage. He came out Thursday and won the 12th hole with a par and the 13th with a birdie to regain that edge, then reeled off five straight pars to win the match.
Schwartzel did get one back with a 3-foot birdie at the 15th hole after a brilliant shot from a fairway bunker. But Henley, who played on the 2011 Walker Cup team, hung tough until the 18th hole.
"I tried not to get too up or down," Henley said. "TRhat was one of the biggest things mentally, just hang tough with an even keel. That's something I've worked on this whole year."
The candidates for the PGA TOUR's Player of the Month presented by Avis for January are in. Here is a closer at each of their performances, and you can vote for your favorite player here. You can also share your thoughts below.
Tiger Woods: Won his only start of the season, finishing at 14 under to coast to a four-shot victory at the Farmers Insurance Open, which he's now won seven times.
Dustin Johnson: Opened the season with a victory at the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which was shortened to three rounds because of weather. He withdrew due illness in his next start at the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished in a tie for 51st at Torrey Pines.
Brian Gay: Shot final-round 63 in come-from-behind win at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Tied for 31st in his only other start of the month at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Russell Henley: Won in his first start as a professional on the PGA TOUR, carding three 63s on his way to capturing the Sony Open in Hawaii. Finished in a tie for 51st the following week at PGA West.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Not that he needed any more confidence, but Russell Henley opened the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation by hitting the flagstick with his approach to the par-4 10th.
The ball settled 2 feet from the pin for an easy birdie and Henley was off and running. The rookie winner of last week's Sony Open in Hawaii went on to fire a 64 on the Nicklaus Course at PGA West that left him one shot off the lead.
"Got off to a fast start," Henley acknowledged. "... It was cool to start out with a birdie. And gave me a little confidence and I just fed on it all day. It was a perfect day. The weather is perfect. Greens were true. So it's just trying to stay patient and let the birdies come to me. And I made some good putts."
Henley, who made an eagle, seven birdies and a lone bogey, used just 24 putts in the first round. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, too.
And don't think that with each mounting birdie Henley wasn't entertaining the idea of shooting what would have been a phenomenal fourth 63 in five rounds as a PGA TOUR member.
"I thought about it coming down the stretch," Henley said, smiling. "I was thinking about hopefully trying to get it to 10, but I was trying to push that thought out of my mind. I would be lying if I said that wasn't going through my head a little bit. I gave myself a lot of good chances and it could have been lower, could have been higher.
"Felt great about the putter and just stayed patient and it was a really good day, I'm very happy with it."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Russell Henley, who won last week's Sony Open in Hawaii in his first start as a PGA TOUR member, didn't hesitate when asked who are the other young players he finds impressive.
The 23-year-old's first choice was Rory McIlroy. Tell us someone we don't know, a reporter suggested. So Henley picked his former Georgia teammate, Harris English.
And English, who tied for ninth last week at Waialae, is lending credence to his friend's words during the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He was briefly tied for the lead and now sits in a big group at 4 under, one stroke behind Bobby Gates.
Also tied at 4 under are Jeff Maggert, Jesper Parnevik, Martin Laird, Joey Snyder III, Jason Kokrak, Stephen Ames, Jerry Kelly, Fabian Gomez and Patrick Cantlay. English has played 10 holes on the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West.
Henley is from Macon, Ga. while English grew up in Valdosta. Both graduated from Georgia in 2011 with a degree in consumer economics. Henley won twice on the Web.com Tour last year while English picked up one victory in 2011.
"I've been playing golf against him since I was 11," Henley said. "And he's just very, very impressive physically, obviously hits the ball a long way, and he can shoot low scores. He shot 62 last week on Saturday, finished top 10. He's playing great. Been playing great for a long time now.
"And physically what he can do with the golf ball is probably the most impressive I've seen. And mentally he's always impressed me. His perspective and his competitiveness and his toughness is just very impressive to me. I think that you're going to be seeing a lot of him for a long time.
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