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January 12 2013

9:14 PM

Calm conditions setting up low scores

By Ann Miller, for PGATOUR.COM

HONOLULU — With the wind all but a whisper at the Sony Open in Hawaii -- at least by island standards -- records are all that are flying around Waialae Country Club this week. The 20-somethings are leading the scoring assault.

Rookie Russell Henley is holding onto his lead midway through the third round after shooting successive 63s. His 14-under 126 total through Friday set a 36-hole scoring record for this tournament, which began in 1965.

Davis Love III set the mark at 128 in 1994. He shot a second-round 60 and ultimately lost to Brett Ogle by a shot.

Love’s halfway total was 16 under because it came on a par-72 Waialae layout. That was cut to par-70 when Sony took over in 1999.

His mark was matched by John Huston in 1998, Paul Azinger (2000), Brad Faxon (2001) and John Cook (2002). They all won with the exception of Cook, who came up a shot short of Jerry Kelly.

Scott Langley, the rookie now chasing Henley, was 128 this week after a first-round 62. That score also tied a record, for low opening round, first set by Scott Simpson (1991). Brian Claar shot the same score in1997.

Huston was basically responsible for changing the par. Officials wanted to toughen Waialae up after Huston, in weather so sublime he termed it “no conditions,” blitzed it with a record score of 28-under 260.

He won by seven shots over Tom Watson. Both play on the Champions Tour now, along with Faxon and Cook.

In contrast Henley and Langley are 23-year-old rookies, who shared low amateur honors at the 2010 U.S. Open (T16). Henley won twice on the Web.com Tour and finished third on the money list to get his card. Langley earned his at the Qualifying Tournament.

Henley is only the second rookie to post 126 in a TOUR event, after Mark Turnesa at the 2008 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The TOUR record is 124, shared by Pat Perez and David Toms.

The rookies, and everybody else making putts all over Waialae’s pristine greens, will be going after the tournament record Sunday. That number is 260, set by Huston and tied by Faxon.

At Waialae this week, anything is possible.

“These greens are just beautiful greens,” Matt Kuchar said. “It’s been a joy to come over here, have some little lighter breezes, and it’s a fun golf course to play.”

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