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
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
Not a bad start for Russell Henley, who in his first week on the PGA TOUR won the Sony Open in Hawaii and was just terrific down the stretch on Sunday, birdieing the last five holes to win by three.
One of the things that Henley has worked on over the last year is making his golf swing less "armsy." This can be a very common habit for many players resulting in bad timing and loss of power through impact. The fix lies in the ability to tie the arm swing more to the movement of the body -- both during the backswing and through impact.
Many times this week you could see how Henley kept his lead arm attached to his chest. It almost appeared as if his left arm couldn’t move unless his torso turned. When a player gets armsy or disconnected you will see the lead arm come off the chest and move independently of the body.
A good drill to help feel and exaggerate this is to make a straight line with your lead arm and club shaft at address. From there, attach your lead arm to the side of your torso creating a bit of pressure in the armpit. Maintain this pressure point and straight line and hit some half to three-quarter shots off a tee with what feels like very passive hands. The lead hand is really the key because it allows the lead arm and club shaft to stay in line. You may notice if the lead hand becomes overly active it will disrupt this straight line immediately sending the club head around the trail hip with no shoulder turn. When kept in-line, the shoulders will have to turn in order for the club head to travel around the body.
This is a simple way to feel the body more as the engine of the swing. Once you accomplish the smaller swings, then allow for a bigger swing where the wrists fully hinge during the backswing and re-hinge after impact. A good wrist hinge will allow the club head to work more up and down but again, you will notice how the club shaft and lead arm maintain a sense of alignment and tied to the body.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
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 ...
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
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.
Russell Henley's chanes of getting his first career win just got better thanks to a 45-footer he jarred for birdie on the 14th hole to get to 20 under and three shots clear of his closest competitor.
The birdie was Henley's 22nd of the week and has the rookie in good position to win in his first start.
Most of Henley's dominance this week has come on the par 4s. He's made 17 birdies on them and no bogeys. Going 50 straight holes without a bogey certainly helped, too.
Now can Henley hold on? The way he's played so far, it looks like it.
One of the reasons Russell Henley is in the lead: He hadn't made a bogey since the 11th hole of the first round -- until now.
Henley just bogeyed the par-4 eighth, where he missed the green long on his approach, left his third 10 feet short of the hole and missed the putt.
It was Henley's first bogey in 50 holes.
The upside for Henley? He still leads, but not by much with Charles Howell III one shot back after turning in 3 under, and Pat Perez two back after also making the turn in 3 under.
Scott Langley, who started the day in a tie with Henley, is also 15 under as is Tim Clark.