What they said: Russell HenleyJanuary 11, 2013
MORE INTERVIEWS: Sony Open in Hawaii transcripts archive
Q. DAVE SENKO: Russell, another 63, 126 after two days, which is the best first 36 holes right now in tournament history by two strokes. But maybe just take us through your day. It looks like you had a pretty good day, greens in reg look like you hit all 18 today.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah. Got off to a good start, hit a good drive on the first hole, and that always‑‑ No.10 is a pretty narrow hole, and it felt good to hit a good one and kind of relaxed me a little bit. Hit a little 50‑yard wedge up there and made like a pretty big curling putt for birdie, about six‑ or seven‑footer. Just kind of nice to start out with a solid hole like that.
You know, I just kind of fed off it the whole day from there.
DAVE SENKO: Putting, it looked like here you got it pretty close quite a bit.
RUSSELL HENLEY: I did. I didn't make every putt that was close, but I was hitting great putts, hitting them like I want to hit them, and some were falling. So I'm happy about it.
Q. You must have hit the ball awfully well.
RUSSELL HENLEY: I did. I think they just told me I hit every green.
Q. Were there any you even came close to missing?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I think so. I think on 17 I barely cleared the bunker. I remember that. But didn't hit every fairway at all. Recovered nicely and had some good breaks there. You know, the weather is great and the ball is flying‑‑ it's not too windy, so you can control the ball pretty well. Wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of low scores this afternoon.
Q. Scott was talking a little bit yesterday about you guys just a year ago, how you kind of had this discussion yesterday out on the golf course. Any more discussions like that today?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, a couple. Yeah, we were playing a Hooters event last January, a year ago, and I missed the cut, and he was on the range trying to help me with my swing. I mean, I guess he helped, but I was hitting it pretty awful for the first six months last year.
Yeah, you know, I think the good thing about Scott and I is we're just so happy to have the opportunity to play out here. Scott is such a great guy, loves golf so much, and works hard at it. It's just nice to play with somebody I have a lot in common with. Hopefully I get to play with him some more this weekend and a lot the rest of the year.
Q. Both of you have kind of talked about, like you just alluded to, not playing well early last year. I know he talked about it, as well, yesterday. Has anything turned it around for you in your mind later in the year?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, I started working up in Charlotte a little bit with a guy named Charles Frost, and he helped my swing a lot. I think that was huge. On my off weeks I always went up there and played a lot of golf sometimes with Webb Simpson, and played a lot with Charles, who's a great player, too. He's the assistant at Quail Hollow. My off weeks I got a lot of good, quality rounds in, and after learning a little bit more about course management and what works for me and what doesn't for me, because I definitely know what didn't work, I started to build some confidence.
Q. Can you put into words how much fun you're having right now? You come out, first tournament as a PGA TOUR member, 63‑63. How cool is this?
RUSSELL HENLEY: It's pretty surreal. I remember I got my card after the TOUR Championship, and my family was there, and it was just kind of like, wow, I just got my PGA TOUR card. This is something I‑‑ you hope eventually one day you'll make it out here. It's so hard, the chances are pretty‑‑ not in your favor to get out here, and I was just like, wow, this is amazing.
So I think coming out here with not really any expectations, just trying to play my game, and hopefully by the end of this year I'll learn and be a better player. I think with that mindset it takes a little pressure off me, and playing with Scott helps, too.
Q. I was going to ask you about playing with Scott. The fact that you guys are recent college graduates, you're both out there, it seems like the guys coming out of college now are more ready to not only compete but contend right away. What's your reason for that?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I mean, the whole time I'm growing up as a junior, I'm watching Tiger Woods play. So you know, I think once one person does it, everybody wants to do it. Also last year I watched Harris English, who was my teammate for four years, and I've been playing with Harris since I was 11 years old in Southeastern Junior Golf Tour events. Playing before we got here, and play great, it just motivates you. You're sitting there on those off weeks and you're thinking maybe I'll do this today, but okay, where do you want to be next year.
I think more guys want it. It's just getting more and more competitive. If everybody could just get out of their own way a little bit, including me a lot of time, the majority of the time, everybody could play some good golf out here. Everybody is very talented.
Q. What score would you realistically now think will win this golf tournament?
RUSSELL HENLEY: You know, I hear the wind is going to be pretty similar the next couple days. I'm not sure if it's going to be the exact same, but if the wind stays like this, you know, the course is just getting firmer and firmer playing shorter and shorter. I think‑‑ I mean, I don't know. The sky's the limit honestly on the weekend if somebody gets hot, but I don't want to say a number because I'm trying not to focus on that. I'm guessing around high teens. I have no idea.
Q. High teens, but you're at‑‑
RUSSELL HENLEY: Maybe 20.
Q. The record is 20, I think, 260.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Well, if the record is 20, hopefully I'll shoot 35. I don't know.
Q. How do you keep it going like this through the weekend? How do you shoot four straight rounds like this?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I think perspective. For me that's been the biggest thing is just knowing that a five‑footer or a drive doesn't define who I am as a person and just knowing that it's just a game. I think that's huge for me. That's kind of my goal is to keep my perspective really good, and hopefully I can keep playing good golf. But I've never been in this situation, so I'm just going to try to hopefully have a good weekend, and whatever happens, learn from it and have a good rest of the year.
Q. Sounds like apart from the scores you're shooting that you have a lot of fun, kind of joking back and forth, kind of playing the same speed?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, it's fun watching Scott play. He hits a lot of low flights with the ball a lot, he makes a lot of putts, hits a lot of great chips, so I always have fun watching him play and I always give him a hard time because I don't think he's missed a putt ‑‑ I don't remember him missing a putt the last two days.
Q. Or all year.
RUSSELL HENLEY: I'm serious, it's ridiculous. We've been having a lot of fun together out there. We just have a lot in common, and it's been a fun two days.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, I don't know. You know, just with him, just goes in one ear and out the other. No, I mean, we‑‑ we're having a great time out there. It's definitely the way I like to play golf, talk and enjoy the day, enjoy the views, enjoy the opportunity, and that definitely helps me play better.
RUSSELL HENLEY: I don't know. I mean, I call him Scotty Lang, but I'm sure people call him a lot of other stuff.
RUSSELL HENLEY: I just call him Scotty. That's it. A lot of people from school at Georgia started calling me Rex, and it's kind of‑‑ it stuck a little bit. I don't see how it still has, but still every once in a while somebody will pop up and still call me that. Yeah, I don't really know.
Q. Do you have friends that have sent resumés out, I'm applying for jobs, I can't find anything, and you're sitting here, I'm playing on the PGA TOUR and playing for millions of dollars every week?
RUSSELL HENLEY: It's funny you say that, I've got some friends like in med school, I've got some friends back home who have been to Atlanta for a job, have come back home and still looking for what they want to do. I've got a guy who's moved out West. I'm like, what are you doing for a living? I'm working at a ski resort, and I'm like, what do you do there? I just put all the extra rented equipment up when they get done. I'm thinking, I could never see myself doing that, and it makes me definitely appreciate what I'm doing a lot more. I'm living the dream, doing what I want to do, and it definitely puts things in perspective.
Q. Ski resort not an option after this?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I mean, I don't ski. That was just a random example. Yeah, maybe it's really fun. I've never tried it. Maybe I'll try it someday.
Q. It's an old story, we've been hearing it forever, but Scott told a nice one yesterday about kind of his slump, if you will, and how much you would go out of your way to‑‑ if you saw something to work with him and tell him what you were seeing, and we get that all the time from different players. I'm just curious, when you kind of learned that art, are you trying to beat guys' brains in out here, but if you have a friend who's struggling you're going to help.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, I mean, we're playing golf out here. I think when you forget that‑‑ that kind of gave me chills when you said that. That was pretty cool, because I remember Scott, such a good guy, and lucky to have a bunch of good friends like that. But there are only in my opinion‑‑ I don't know everybody out here on the PGA TOUR, but you don't come across a lot of guys who really get it and play the game the way I think it should be played.
I think when you get guys who are selfless, I think that's a really cool thing. I try to be that way. I strive to be that way. I'm probably not always like that. I'm not perfect. But you know, it's a pretty cool thing. I think Scotty is one of the best guys I've met out here playing golf, and obviously one of the better players. It is really cool, that side of the game, because that would never happen in any other sport. You'd never see Federer help Nadal with his backhand, or I don't think. And that's why I love the game so much. I love the competition but also love how you can be the guy's best friend next to you you're playing with, and that's one of the things I try to focus on more than the score, if I play well or if I shoot 80 or 60 or whatever. I just try to really enjoy that part of it.
Q. Where do you think you learned this from?
RUSSELL HENLEY: You know, I think in college Chris Haack was always preaching to me about having fun, enjoying myself out there, because he always said it's just golf. We're not doing anything special out here, we're just playing golf, and it's supposed to be fun. My parents have always told me they want me to do the thing that's fun, not‑‑ enjoy myself. They were always say have fun, just be yourself, have fun. I've had great parents, very selfless people, and they've given back a lot in the community in Macon, Georgia, where I'm from, and I think I've had very good role models growing up. I'm guessing that's where it came from.
Q. When did you and Scott first begin to hit it off, and did you know he was a good friend from the beginning?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Well, not from the beginning. I think he played at Illinois, I played at Georgia, played college golf against each other, I met him in college, but when I really met him, we tied for low am at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and then we flew to the Palmer Cup together after that, played a lot of amateur tournaments together, and Scott is an easy guy to like. So I've been buddies with him ever since I met him.
Q. You first hit it off playing in the tournament or‑‑
RUSSELL HENLEY: You know, I don't recall. It was probably at like‑‑ probably when we were playing, I'm sure. Scott and I like to talk when we're out there. Probably when we were playing. I don't recall.
Q. Who got the window and who got the aisle?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I remember that was right when iPads came out, and I got the window but he had the iPad watching his little movie, and I'm sitting there with nothing. We ended up flying from California to Newark and then to Ireland and not sleep the whole night and then stay up the entire day. So I remember I was like, man, give me that iPad. He's like, no, man, I'm watching movies.
Q. Do you have one now?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I've got one now. I remember watching, and I was trying to make out what they were saying. (Laughter.)
But yeah, it was a fun trip.
Q. Would it be ideal for you guys to play the weekend together?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I'd love to play with him. I think that would be a fun thing to look back on. I think being our debut, our first as a member, I know he played a few last year, but it could be a lot of fun. I'm loving playing with him, and he's got a great caddie, and he's really nice, and we all hit it off.
Q. What was your first reaction when you found out you were playing together?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I just sent him a text, and I said, hey, we're playing together, and he said, oh, yeah. We're actually staying in the same hotel, and I saw him right after I texted him, we were both in the gym, and he was excited, and so was I.
RUSSELL HENLEY: No, I don't think we're like best friends or anything, but I love playing with him. I think maybe one day we'll be best friends. (Laughter.)
Q. Sounds like you guys are (inaudible).
RUSSELL HENLEY: I don't know, you don't see that very often, do you? Well, it's good to be different.
DAVE SENKO: Thanks, Russell.