January 17 2013
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."