January 18 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- No rookie has won in his first two starts on the PGA TOUR, but Russell Henley has a chance to do that this weekend at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
Here are thoughts on Henley and a few other things to watch for in this weekend in my weekly Five for Friday:
1. The game keeps getting younger, and 20-something is the new 30-something on TOUR. Henley, of course, is among that group and is off to a terrific start in his rookie year. As I wrote in Monday Backspin, however, he's a rookie in name only given his background and success both as an amateur and the year he spent on the Web.com Tour. His scoring average through the first five rounds of this season was 64 with the former University of Georgia standout having already posted three 63s and a 64. To put that in perspective, there were only two players with five rounds of 64 or better for the entire season in 2012. Henley now has four in five rounds.
2. Don't forget about Phil Mickelson, though. He's a two-time winner of the event, its all-time leading money winner and has four top 10s in 10 career starts. Mickelson has some ground to make up this weekend to add to that, but he was seventh on TOUR in third-round scoring average last year so it's certainly not out of reach.
3. The wind is expected to pick up over the weekend, but not by much -- it'll only blow around 10 mph. In other words, expect more birdies.
4. Among the celebrities to watch for in the pro-am: Carson Daly, Craig T. Nelson, Michael Pena, Anthony Anderson, Alice Cooper and Michael Bolton. Daly grew up playing against Tiger Woods in California before he figured out it wouldn't be the best career path for him.
5. Don't read too much into Rory McIlroy (and Woods) missing the cut in Abu Dhabi. Yes, McIlroy is still adjusting to his new equipment, but some errant swings hurt him the most. Remember, McIlroy missed three of four cuts at one point on TOUR last year, and he still won four times and earned Player of the Year honors.