Scott Langley and Russell Henley were stellar in their debuts as TOUR pros. (Getty Images, PGA TOUR)
By Ann Miller, for PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU — The rookie class of 2013 came barging in Thursday at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Scott Langley made his first round as a PGA TOUR member memorable, firing an 8-under 62 to take the lead in the first full-field event of the year.
Russell Henley, another rookie, is one shot back and 14 of the 23 rookies at Waialae Country Club are in the top 44.
Henley and Langley played in the same group, with Luke Guthrie, Langley’s teammate and roommate at the University of Illinois. In two weeks, all three will be 23.
The three rookies, who met in middle school, will remember Thursday when they are 103.
“I think there was a lot of nerves for me the first few holes,” said Henley, “and I think playing with Scotty and Luke was huge for me, and watching them play well kind of gave me a goal to try to keep up with them, so it was definitely fun feeding off them.”
Henley won a 2011 Web.com Tour event as an amateur, a week before he graduated from Georgia. He won twice more last year, finishing third on the money list.
He and Langley tied for low amateur at the 2010 U.S. Open, sharing 16th. Thursday, they were in awe of how far they had come from one year ago at a Hooters Tour event.
“He had just missed the cut, I barely made the cut, we were on the range trying to help each other find it,” Langley recalled.
“You know, we just were walking up 16, today you could see the ocean behind, PGA TOUR signs everywhere. We looked at each other and realized this is pretty cool. To look back one year ago and to know that we weren’t here, we were in a far different place.”
They earned their way, along with all the other rookies.
Langley, who got his accounting degree in 2011, won the 2010 NCAA championship. He is the TOUR’s first graduate of the First Tee program and he earned his card with a 17th-place finish at Q-School.
“I know, speaking from my experience, as soon as I got my card I couldn't wait until today,” Langley said. “The competitor in me was just really excited to get going. But I don’t know what it is. Russell played great today, Morgan Hoffmann played great, and Ben Kohles and a bunch of guys.
“We’re just all excited to play, excited to be out here. Whether or not we're more motivated than others, I don't know. I'm pretty motivated to play well, but I think we help each other, the young guys.”
And the guys before help as well.
“It's just fun to see our peers who we've seen for so long be out here, Bud Cauley, Rickie (Fowler), Cameron Tringale, doing so well, being in contention to win tournaments,” Langley added. “When we do get out here, we believe that we can play well because we see the guys that we have played against our whole careers doing the same thing.”